Mystery Object Found in Supernova’s Heart


Well, isn’t this interesting news today…

“Embedded in the heart of a supernova remnant 10,000 light-years away is a stellar object the likes of which astronomers have never seen before in our galaxy.

At first glance, the object looks like a densely packed stellar corpse known as a neutron star surrounded by a bubble of ejected stellar material, exactly what would be expected in the wake of a supernova explosion.

However, a closer 24.5-hour examination with the European Space Agency’s XMM Newton X-ray satellite reveals that the energetic X-ray emissions of the blue, point-like object cycles every 6.7 hours—tens of thousands of times longer than expected for a freshly created neutron star.”

This is very surprising since most youngish neutron stars spin at least a couple of hundred times a second. (There are faster ones, and they tend to be surrounded by disk of dust that causes them to spin faster and faster as the material falls onto the neutron star surface – which is what one would expect in this instance.)

In this case you have a youngish neutron star – with a dust disk – spinning very very slowly. There’s no simple way to explain this behavior other than to invoke exotic effects like a magnestar or some sort of close binary neutron star. (But a close binary would be rather astonishing as the configuration would have to occur somehow in spite of the explosive event of the super-nova which caused at least one of the neutron stars – and the associated nebula.)

Astronomers love it when something like this comes along and refuses to fit into any of the existing models. Either our physics is totally wrong, or there’s something rather extraordinary going on that we’ve never seen before. Either way – it’s pretty cool!

Read the rest here: — Mystery Object Found in Supernova’s Heart

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Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...

1 Comment

  1. The natural world is filled with unknowing and mystery. Is this a lesson for our faith as well? This reminds me of an Easter column Bishop Paul Marshall wrote in April 2001, which is equally appropriate today in the Episcopal Church and perhaps all ages in which he wrote “On the stone that blocked Jesus’ tomb were inscribed the words: ‘We’ve never done it that way before.’ We all know that stone. It keeps us fearful of what might be the Holy Spirit’s promptings.” We are, indeed, an Easter people. For the full column, see:

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