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The most active pulsars ever discovered have stunned researchers

The most active pulsars ever discovered have stunned researchers

Artist’s impression of the radiation from a pulsar

© Science Communication Lab/DESY

villa It is one of the best-researched pulsars. That’s because it’s about to 1000 light years The distance is also one of the closest to Earth ever discovered.

However, Vela has now succeeded in surprising astronomers. Gamma ray photons with energy up to 20 TeV Notice. This is according to the researchers who conducted their study in Nature astronomy that it published, 200 times more radiation than all the radiation Vela has measured so far.

So far, only one pulsar is known to emit radiation in the TeV range. This is one Cancer pulsar, which is about 6,000 light-years from Earth. But this only comes down to TeV. Therefore, Fela is the pulsar he uses so far The most powerful measurement of gamma rays.

At the end of their development Huge stars In essence, it consumes nuclear fuel. Within milliseconds, the star collapses under its own gravity. The outer crust explodes as a supernova.

What remains is one Neutron star. This is typically 20 to 24 kilometers in diameter, but has a mass of one or two solar masses. A teaspoon of neutron star material weighs more than 5 billion tons.

Because of this high density, neutron stars rotate very quickly. Vela rotates 11 times per second. Neutron stars emit radiation that is distributed through space through rotation. When this radiation hits our solar system, we see stars on Earth flash at regular intervals – almost like a lighthouse in space. It becomes a neutron star whose radiation reaches Earth in this way Pulsar Named.

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Previous theory of radiation

The strength of Vela’s gamma rays does not fit the theoretical models previously used to explain these bursts of radiation. It was currently assumed that the radiation comes from electrons from Strong magnetic field From a pulsar accelerated And get distracted. Electrons move from the surface of the pulsar to its edge Magnetosphere. This is the region around an astronomical object where the particles are affected by the magnetic field.

➤ Read more: Discovery of a new pulsar with a giant companion star

During flight, electrons absorb energy, which is released as radiation. In Vela, there has only been gamma radiation here so far gigaelectronvolt (GeV) range measurement. According to the research center, when a certain GeV value is reached, the radiation stops Daisy But suddenly. According to current theory, this is because the electrons reach the end of the magnetosphere and disappear into the depths of space.

The radiation is too strong for known theory

However, gamma-ray photons now recorded at up to 20 TeV call this theory into question. The electrons must be accelerated much faster than is possible through the magnetosphere – at least according to current theory.

According to the researchers, the current theory needs to be reconsidered and perhaps revised. One possible explanation is that the electrons are further accelerated because the magnetic field structure suddenly changes, releasing large amounts of energy. This effect will reconnect It is called and is responsible for solar flares in our sun. According to the researchers, the measured radiation would be too high even for this theory.

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This discovery comes with Hess Observatory It was made in Namibia that would now lay the foundation for further research. Since researchers now know what to look for, TeV radiation will likely be detected in many pulsars in the future, although this was not previously thought to be possible there. This research should help not only better understand neutron stars, but also other astronomical objects with strong magnetic fields.