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Current Affairs

Youngest magnetar spotted

Date: 20 June 2020 Tags: Space

Issue

Astronomers at NASA and ESA have discovered the youngest pulsar known. This celestial body is a mere 240 years old, and its birth would have been visible on Earth at the time as a supernova.

 

Background

This little star, known as Swift J1818.0−1607, is the youngest of its type, nudging out Cassiopeia A by about 60-odd years.

 

Details

  • Not only is it a neutron star, but it’s also a magnetar, which is a rare type that has a particularly powerful magnetic field.

  • It also belongs to the even more exclusive club of magnetars that are also radio pulsars, of which there are only five known members.

  • As a neutron star, it packs the mass of two Suns into a space the size of a city. It rotates once every 1.36 seconds, making it one of the fastest-spinning objects ever found. 

  • Neutron stars are some of the densest objects in the universe – a teaspoon of neutron star material expected to weigh a whopping 4 billion tonnes on Earth.

  • Atoms inside the neutron star are so tightly packed together that they behave in ways that are not observed in any other material.

 

Magnetar

A magnetar is a type of neutron star believed to have an extremely powerful magnetic field. The magnetic field decay powers the emission of high-energy electromagnetic radiation, particularly X-rays and gamma rays.

 

Pulsar

A pulsar is a highly magnetized rotating neutron star that emits beams of electromagnetic radiation out of its magnetic poles. This radiation can be observed only when a beam of emission is pointing toward Earth, and is responsible for the pulsed appearance of emission.