A world group led by astronomers from the Curtin College node of the Worldwide Centre for Radio Astronomy Analysis (ICRAR) has found a brand new sort of stellar object that challenges our understanding of the physics of neutron stars.
The item might be an ultra-long interval magnetar, a uncommon sort of star with extraordinarily robust magnetic fields that may produce highly effective bursts of power.
Till lately, all recognized magnetars launched power at intervals starting from a couple of seconds to some minutes. The newly found object emits radio waves each 22 minutes, making it the longest interval magnetar ever detected.
The analysis was revealed within the journal Nature.
Astronomers found the item utilizing the Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), a radio telescope on Wajarri Yamaji Nation in outback Western Australia.
Lead writer Dr Natasha Hurley-Walker mentioned the magnetar, named GPM J1839−10, is 15,000 light-years away from Earth within the Scutum constellation.
“This exceptional object challenges our understanding of neutron stars and magnetars, that are a number of the most unique and excessive objects within the Universe,” she mentioned.
The stellar object is simply the second of its sort ever detected after the primary was found by Curtin College undergraduate analysis pupil Tyrone O’Doherty.
Initially, scientists couldn’t clarify what that they had discovered.
They revealed a paper in Nature in January 2022 describing an enigmatic transient object that may intermittently seem and disappear, emitting highly effective beams of power 3 times per hour.
Dr Hurley-Walker—O’Doherty’s honours supervisor—mentioned the primary object took us unexpectedly.
“We had been stumped,” she mentioned. “So we began looking for comparable objects to search out out if it was an remoted occasion or simply the tip of the iceberg.”
Between July and September 2022, the group scanned the skies utilizing the MWA telescope.
They quickly discovered what they had been on the lookout for in GPM J1839−10.
It emits bursts of power that last as long as 5 minutes—5 instances longer than the primary object.
Different telescopes adopted as much as affirm the invention and be taught extra concerning the object’s distinctive traits.
These included three CSIRO radio telescopes in Australia, the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa, the Grantecan (GTC) 10m telescope, and the XMM-Newton house telescope.
Armed with GPM J1839−10’s celestial coordinates and traits, the group additionally started looking out the observational archives of the world’s premier radio telescopes.
“It confirmed up in observations by the Big Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT) in India, and the Very Giant Array (VLA) within the USA had observations relationship way back to 1988,” she mentioned.
“That was fairly an unbelievable second for me. I used to be 5 years previous when our telescopes first recorded pulses from this object, however nobody observed it, and it stayed hidden within the information for 33 years.
“They missed it as a result of they hadn’t anticipated to search out something prefer it.”
Not all magnetars produce radio waves. Some exist beneath the ‘demise line’, a vital threshold the place a star’s magnetic subject turns into too weak to generate high-energy emissions.
“The item we’ve found is spinning means too slowly to provide radio waves—it’s beneath the demise line,” Dr Hurley-Walker mentioned.
“Assuming it’s a magnetar, it shouldn’t be attainable for this object to provide radio waves. However we’re seeing them.
“And we’re not simply speaking about somewhat blip of radio emission.
“Each 22 minutes, it emits a five-minute pulse of radio wavelength power, and it’s been doing that for not less than 33 years.
“No matter mechanism is behind that is extraordinary.”
The invention has essential implications for our understanding of the physics of neutron stars and the behaviour of magnetic fields in excessive environments.
It additionally raises new questions concerning the formation and evolution of magnetars and will make clear the origin of mysterious phenomena reminiscent of quick radio bursts.
The analysis group plans to conduct additional observations of the magnetar to be taught extra about its properties and behavior.
In addition they hope to find extra of those enigmatic objects sooner or later, to find out whether or not they’re certainly ultra-long interval magnetars, or one thing much more phenomenal.
The MWA is a precursor to the world’s largest radio astronomy observatory, the Sq. Kilometre Array, which is below building in Australia and South Africa. The MWA celebrates a major milestone this 12 months because it completes a decade of operations and worldwide scientific discovery.
The Worldwide Centre for Radio Astronomy Analysis (ICRAR) is a three way partnership between Curtin College and The College of Western Australia with assist and funding from the State Authorities of Western Australia.