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Astronomers May Have Just Seen Two Neutron Stars Collide To Form A Magnetar

by : Daniel Richardson on : 12 Nov 2020 18:00
Astronomers May Have Just Seen Two Neutron Stars Collide To Form A MagnetarNorthwestern University

When two neutron stars collide, the resulting effects are huge, and astronomers have just seen the aftermath of this event. Surprisingly, this may be the first captured sighting of the birth of a magnetar. 

The crashing of two neutron stars is known as a kilonova, and it causes significant gamma rays to be sent out across space. A study published in The Astrophysical Journal noted a recent incident of this and interestingly, it hypothesised that this collision can lead to a magnetar that has dense magnetic fields. In short, this study believes to have seen the birth of a neutron star with a huge magnetic field that came from an incredibly powerful collision.

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StarsPA Images

NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Observatory found a huge gamma ray burst in distant space on May 22. Strangely, the collision that caused this will have actually occurred 5.5 billion years ago, but the rays have only just reached the telescopes and sensory equipment. Despite the passing of time, the resulting research with near-infrared data from the Hubble Telescope showed an incredible ray that is 10 times brighter than any kilonova ever recorded.

Wen-fai Fong, an astrophysicist at Northwestern University and lead author of the new research, explained the initial situation to CNET:

We scratched our heads for awhile and pored through all possible models at our disposal. he near-infrared light we saw from GRB 200522A was far too bright to be explained by a standard radioactively powered kilonova.

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The team are now modelling and investigating the gamma rays to confirm whether they have seen the birth of a magnetar. Unfortunately, because of how far away the collision took place, it could take around six years before waves reach the team and they can confirm the findings. Despite this, there is a lot of anticipation surrounding what may be uncovered through this discovery.

NASA Goddard Sun TimelapseNASA Goddard/YouTube

There are even hopes that mysterious fast-burst rays (FRB) that have been found in the Milky Way can be explored through the study of GRB 200522A.

Dr Fong noted:

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If we were able to associate an FRB with the location of GRB 200522A, that would be an astounding discovery and would indeed be a smoking gun linking this particular event to a magnetar.

This is an exciting discovery, and even if it takes years before the nature of magnetars comes to light, the possibility of two stars colliding to create such an impact across space is incredible.

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Daniel Richardson

After graduating from university, Dan went on to work with a variety of tech startups and media outlets. Through working with the likes of Game Rant, The Hook and What Culture, Dan pursued his interests in technology. The skills he picked up along the way are now being utilised with UNILAD.

Topics: Technology, Now, Science, Space, Stars, Tech