It is the most powerful of the pulsars

In a dwarf galaxy nearly 400 million light-years from ours, an object recently caught astronomers’ attention. It could be one of the youngest and most powerful pulsars ever discovered. And the researchers hope it will help them solve the mystery of Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs).

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[EN VIDÉO] A Black Widow pulsar devours its companion
When it comes to spiders, black widow spiders are the ones that devour their mates after mating. And astronomers have observed similar behavior in the sky. When a pulsar and a low-mass star form a binary. Given the radiation the pulsar emits, the star has little chance of surviving for long. (in English) © NASA Goddard

His nickname is VT 1137-0337. It nests in a dwarf galaxy that contains about 100 million times Dimensions ours Sun and is located around 395 millionlight years our earth. And after what the researchers presented during the in Pasadena (USA). Congress of the American Astronomical Unionit is one of the youngest neutron stars never discovered. A pulsar that would not be older than 60 to 80 years!

But all of this deserves clarification. First, remember that a neutron star is the remnant of a supermassive star that has exploded supernova. An extremely dense remnant, having a mass comparable to that of our Sun within a diameter of just a few tens of kilometers. And a pulsar, is the name given to a neutron star that rotates extremely quickly around its axis. Sometimes in just a few milliseconds.

What the astronomers think they have discovered in the data of VLA Sky Surveythis is actually what they call a fog of wind from Pulsar. It is formed from charged particles that are accelerated by a force magnetic field Has transmission near the light after a Supernova Explosion gave birth to a pulsar. This pulsar wind nebula first appeared in an image captured in 2018.

A key to the secret of fast radio bursts?

But the neutron star that created it is probably not quite as young. Researchers believe VT 1137-0337 didn’t appear earlier because it did emission The radio was supposed to be obscured by debris from the supermassive star’s first supernova explosion. With the extension From this shell, the radio waves could finally reach us.

Note that this isn’t the first time astronomers have observed a pulsar wind nebula. The famous Crab Nebula, in the constellation of Taurus, is one. She was born from a supernova that occurred in 1054. And remains visible with the help of a telescope Amateur. The difference between the Crab Nebula and VT 1137-0337 is that the latter appears to be no less than 10,000 times more energetic. With a much stronger magnetic field. Which earned him the nickname “big crab” emerging.

And the fact that its magnetic field is so strong might even knock it out of the pulsar wind nebula category. VT 1137-0337 might be hiding… a magnetar. Exactly the people who are urgently suspected of being behind it quick radio bursts. The famous FRBs that fascinate astronomers so much. More than just a magnetar, VT 1137-0337 would then be neither more nor less than the whole first magnetar “Caught in action”.

It’s even more exciting fascinating characteristics of some fast radio bursts – Radio bursts associated with sustained radio signals – bear strong similarities to the characteristics of this strange object. Which finally raises the following question: Couldn’t FRBs also find their source in pulsar wind nebulae? Astronomers now intend to closely monitor VT 1137-0337 to learn more about this strange object and how it evolved over time.

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