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Soft Gamma Rays Flicker Chaotically in Time Windows

21 Jul 2021, 05:21 UTC
Soft Gamma Rays Flicker Chaotically in Time Windows
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IMAGE: Since 2014, a magnetar in our galaxy (SGR1935+2154) has been emitting bursts of soft gamma rays (black stars). UC Berkeley scientists concluded that they occurred only within certain windows of time (green stripes) but were somehow blocked during intervening windows (red). They used this pattern to predict renewed bursts starting after June 1, 2021 (stripes outlined in blue at right), and since June 24, more than a dozen have been detected (blue stars): right on schedule. CREDIT: Mikhail Denissenya, Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan

Astronomy is a long game, and sometimes, keeping our eyes on things across decades allows weird new phenomena to be discovered. The star SGR1935+2154 is a neutron star that periodically gives off gamma-ray radiation. It is thought this star has a powerful magnetic field, and that magnetic field periodically does something we can’t describe, and that something gives off gamma rays. Most of the time, these events are just enough to get the star noticed, but periodically, the events are briefly very powerful in radio light. This makes SG1935+2154 the only known fast radio burst source in our Milky Way galaxy.

Regularly observed since 2014, it was initially noticed that this object can flicker with bursts of ...

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