Something is blinking at us from space. It is very clear and the pulses repeat at a much lower frequency than usual. Astronomers think it could be a magner-type neutron star, but they’re not sure…
Australian Center for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) announced todaythat in space discovered an unknown source that would release a great current of energy three times an hour. It is unlike anything astronomers have ever seen. The team thinks it could be a neutron star or white dwarf with an extremely strong magnetic field. The strange spinning object emitted a beam that was one of the brightest radio sources in Earth’s sky every eighteen minutes for one minute.
The ICRAR team that discovered the power source is led by astrophysicist Natasha Hurley-Walker. “The object appeared and disappeared within a few hours during our observations,” she said. “It was a bit scary for astronomers because we don’t know of anything in the sky that behaves in this way. And it’s really close enough to us, about 4,000 light-years away. It’s in our galactic backyard.”
Objects that turn on and off in space, but are nothing new to astronomers. They call them transitory. Co-author of the article Dr. Gema Anderson said: “In the study of transients, we observe the extinction of a massive star or the activity of the remnants it leaves behind.”
ICRAR’s video animation describes the discovery, the behavior of the object and its possible appearance:
Slow transients, like supernovae, can appear gradually over the course of days and disappear after a few months. Fast transients, like a type of neutron star called a pulsar, turn on and off in milliseconds or seconds. But discovering something that turns on for a minute is really strange.
The mysterious object was incredibly bright and smaller than the Sun. It emitted highly polarized radio waves, indicating that the object had an extremely strong magnetic field.
Natasha Hurley-Walker said that the observations correspond to an astrophysical object called magnetize with a very long period. “It’s the kind of slow-rotating neutron star that has been theoretically predicted to exist.” she said. “But no one expected that we would be able to detect such a star directly, because we didn’t expect it to be that bright. In a way, it converts magnetic energy into radio waves much more efficiently than anything we’ve seen before.”
The mystery object is now at rest. Astronomers are waiting to see if its activity reappears. “Further detection will tell astronomers whether this was a unique and rare event or a new large-scale phenomenon that we have never seen before.” Natasha Hurley-Walker said.
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