A once-dormant magnetic neutron star is emitting strangely polarised light

April 16, 2024

Credit: Carl Knox, OzGrav/SwinburneAstronomers using Murriyang, CSIRO’s radio telescope at Parkes NSW, have detected unusual radio pulses from a previously dormant star with a powerful magnetic field. New results published today in Nature Astronomy describe radio signals from magnetar XTE J1810-197 behaving in complex ways. Magnetars are a type of neutron star and the strongest magnets in the Universe. Most magnetars are known to emit polarised light, though the light this magnetar is emitting is circularly polarised, where the light appears to spiral as it moves through space. "Unlike the radio signals we’ve seen from other magnetars, this one is emitting enormous amounts of rapidly changing circular polarisation.

Artist's impression of a magnetar. Credit: Carl Knox, OzGrav/Swinburne

Astronomers using Murriyang, CSIRO’s radio telescope at Parkes NSW, have detected unusual radio pulses from a previously dormant star with a powerful magnetic field.

New results published today in Nature Astronomy describe radio signals from magnetar XTE J1810-197 behaving in complex ways.

Magnetars are a type of neutron star and the strongest magnets in the Universe. At roughly 8000 light years away, this magnetar is also the closest known to Earth.

Most magnetars are known to emit polarised light, though the light this magnetar is emitting is circularly polarised, where the light appears to spiral as it moves through space.

Dr Marcus Lower, a postdoctoral fellow at Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, led the research and said the results are unexpected and totally unprecedented.

"Unlike the radio signals we’ve seen from other magnetars, this one is emitting enormous amounts of rapidly changing circular polarisation. We have never seen anything like this before,” Dr Lower said.

The source of this news is from University of Sydney

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