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TheSpaceWriter's Ramblings

The Magnetar at the Heart of the Milky Way

18 Jan 2019, 22:54 UTC
The Magnetar at the Heart of the Milky Way
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

A long time ago, I wrote a story called “Magnetar the Magnificent”. It was about these weird things called neutron stars that have extremely strong magnetic fields. They’re a step in the evolution of massive stars, which explode as supernovae and leave behind these giant balls of neutrons held together by a strong gravitational pull. They are actually an interesting form of pulsars, which spin rapidly and emit radiation. In the story, I introduced the concept. It also became a podcast about for the old 365 Days of Astronomy project.

At the AAS last week, we heard some more about these objects. The latest story focuses on one that astronomers have detected at the heart of the Milky Way Galaxy. It’s the object shown in this artist’s conception. Basically, the object is a rotating neutron star with very powerful magnetic fields.

Magnetars give off radio emissions which can be studied with telescopes here on Earth. That’s just what people from CalTech and JPL did, using one of NASA’s deep-space network dishes in Australia, and it had been observed previously by NASA’s Swift X-Ray Telescope and the Nuclear Spectroscopic Array (NuSTAR).

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