Superbright object continues to send radio waves while beyond the death line - scientists

Dmytro IvancheskulNews
Magnetars have the most powerful magnetic fields in the Universe

Scientists have discovered a slowly rotating ultra-bright object 15,000 light-years from Earth that defies any logical explanation. It has been emitting radio waves for 30 years, although it should have been doing so for a maximum of several years.

Astronomers reported their research in the journal Nature. They are surprised that the object remains "alive" despite the fact that it has already crossed the so-called line of death.

The object in question is a magnetar, a type of neutron star that is an extremely dense and compact remnant of a star that remains after it becomes a supernova. A magnetar has a mass greater than our Sun, but is compressed to a size of only 10-20 kilometers in diameter.

The peculiarity of magnetars is that they have the most powerful magnetic fields in the Universe. When these objects rotate at a very high speed, they are able to emit ultra-bright jets of electromagnetic radiation, including radio waves, which repeat every few seconds or minutes.

However, the duration of such magnetar activity is relatively short. As a rule, radio pulses stop completely in a few months or years when the object's rotation slows down. According to LiveScience, scientists call this moment the line of death, because along with a decrease in rotation speed, the magnetar loses the power of its magnetic field, which leads to an inability to generate high-energy radiation.

However, the newly discovered GPM J1839-10 continues to generate radio waves while being beyond the line of death - and this has been going on for more than 30 years.

This magnet was first discovered in September 2022 and observations showed that the object pulsed with bright radio waves every 22 minutes, glowed intensely for about five minutes at a time, and then dimmed again.

Its pulsation time alone was very interesting, as most radio-emitting dwarf stars pulsate every few seconds or minutes. It was this extra-long cycle that indicated that the magnetar was rotating extremely slowly.

Scientists checked archival data and found that the same magnetar was recorded back in 1988 and then it had the same 22-minute pulsation cycle.

"The object we found is rotating too slowly to produce radio waves - it's beyond death," explained Natasha Hurley-Walker, a radio astronomer from Australia's International Center for Radio Astronomy Research (ICRAR) and lead author of the study.

She noted that since the object is a magnetar by all indications, it should no longer produce radio waves. Therefore, if their observations are confirmed, it will be a case of detecting an ultra-long-period magnetar, which may be a new class of stellar objects.

Interestingly, such an object may pose a challenge to scientists because it does not fit into current theoretical models.

There is speculation that scientists are not actually observing a magnetar, but a white dwarf, another type of stellar remnant that is much larger than a magnetar and rotates more slowly. However, according to the researchers, the radio emission of this object is at least 1,000 times brighter than that of the brightest white dwarf ever discovered.

"This remarkable object challenges our understanding of neutron stars and magnetars, which are among the most exotic and extreme objects in the Universe. Whatever the mechanism behind it, it is extraordinary," Hurley-Walker summarized.

Earlier, OBOZREVATEL also reported that NASA recorded a powerful explosion that shook the entire space.

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