A mysterious object that releases a gigantic burst of energy three times an hour and that it does not look like anything seen before, according to astronomers, has been discovered by a team of scientists from the International Center for Radio Astronomical Research, in Australia, and is located 4,000 light years from Earth.
The researchers believe that could be a neutron star or a white dwarf -collapsed cores of stars- with an ultra-strong magnetic field.
As explained in the magazine Nature, emits a beam of radiation that crosses the line of sight and becomes one of the brightest radio sources in the sky for one minute out of 20
The find has been made by an honors student from Curtin University, Tyrone O’Doherty, by using the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA) telescope and a new technique developed by him. “It’s exciting that the source I identified last year turned out to be such a peculiar object,” said the young man.
MWA’s wide field of view and extreme sensitivity are perfect for surveying the entire sky and detecting the unexpected.”
“It was kind of creepy, there’s nothing known in heaven that does that”
“It would appear and disappear over the course of a few hours during our observations. For an astronomer it was kind of creepy, because there is nothing known in the sky that does that,” said astrophysicist Dr. Natasha Hurley-Walker, leader of the research team. “In addition, it is very close to us, about 4,000 light years”, has affected
The objects that turn on and off are not new to astronomers, but are called “transitory” and they are identified with the death of a massive star or the activity of the remains it leaves behind. However, and as the ICRAR-Curtin astrophysicist and co-author of the study, Dr. Gemma Anderson, has pointed out, the strange thing about the discovery is that said object lights up for a minute.
The “slow transients”, like supernovae, can appear within a few days and disappear after a few months, while “fast transients”Like a type of neutron star called a pulsar, they turn on and off in milliseconds or seconds.
But, as he pointed out, the mysterious object was incredibly bright and smaller than the Sun, and it was emitting highly polarized radio waves, suggesting that it had an extremely strong magnetic field.
Coincides with an ‘ultra-long period magnetar’, a predicted astrophysical object
Hurley-Walker has explained that the observations match a predicted astrophysical object called an ‘ultra-long period magnetar’: “It is a type of neutron star that rotates slowly and whose existence has been predicted in theory, but no one expected to directly detect one like this, because we didn’t expect them to be that bright.”
“It is converting magnetic energy much more efficiently“
“In some ways, it’s converting magnetic energy into radio waves much more efficiently than anything we’ve seen before,” he said. The doctor is now monitoring the object with the MWA to see if it comes back on.. If it does, “there are telescopes all over the southern hemisphere and even in orbit that can point directly at it.”
In addition, astrophysicists plan to search for more of these unusual objects in the telescope’s vast archives. “More detections will tell astronomers if this is a unique and rare event or a vast new population that we’ve never noticed before,” he said.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.