Scientists Unveil Unique Magnetar After Chandra Observations

Scientists Unveil Unique Magnetar After Chandra Observations
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Neutron stars are already peculiar cosmic objects by definition: ultradense structures so heavy that their gravitational pull far exceeds that of usual stars. Despite their tremendous gravity, neutron stars are also very tiny, measuring only about 20 km in diameter.

Magnetars are even more peculiar cosmic objects, as they’re a type of neutron stars that have an extremely powerful magnetic field: (∼109 to 1011 T, ∼1013 to 1015 G). The decay of the magnetic field can charge the emission of high-energy electromagnetic radiation such as X-rays and gamma rays.

Meet the J1818.0-1607 magnetar

Phys.org writes that on March 12, 2020, astronomers detected the magnetar known as J1818.0-1607, using NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Telescope. After more observations, the conclusion was that the magnetar could be the youngest of its kind: only about 500 years old.

Located at about 21,000 light-years away in the Milky Way galaxy, J1818.0-1607 can be seen below:

The composite image contains two NASA missions’ wide field of view in the infrared: the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) and the Spitzer Space Telescope. However, the X-rays from Chandra are showing the magnetar in purple.

The Chandra X-ray Observatory, which is previously known as the Advanced X-ray Astrophysics Facility (AXAF), is the flagship space telescope launched by NASA aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia during STS-93 in 1999. Chandra is able to detect X-ray sources that are 100 times fainter than what other telescopes are capable of analyzing.

Samar Safi-Harb of the University of Manitoba in Canada and Harsha Blumer of West Virginia University published results from the recent observations of J1818.0-1607 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Even if, by some chance, someone will invent a superfast spaceship capable of traveling 21,000 light-years, such a journey would be extremely risky. Magnetars are extremely dangerous space objects once you get too close to them.


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