Astronomers detect a magnetic star that released in less than a second the same amount of energy produced by the Sun in 100,000 years


4 one 2022 23:25 GMT

Observations of the phenomenon allowed estimating that the volume of the flare was similar or even greater than that of the star itself.

A team of Spanish researchers recently published a study in the journal Nature in which they claim to have recorded in detail the “eruption” of a magnetic star that in just 3.5 milliseconds released as much energy as the Sun produces over 100,000 years.

Among the neutron stars (objects that can contain half a million times the mass of the Earth in a diameter of only 20 kilometers) stands out a small group with the most intense magnetic field known: the magnetars.

So far, only 30 of these strange cosmic objects have been detected, characterized by violent eruptions of which very little is known due to their unexpected nature and their short duration.

However, astronomers from the Andalusian Institute of Astrophysics (IAA) have managed to measure different oscillations (or pulses) that occurred during the highest energy instants of a magnetar. These oscillations are a crucial element in understanding the giant eruptions of energy from so-called magnetars.

“Even in an inactive state, magnetars can be 100,000 times more luminous than our Sun”, explained Alberto Castro-Tirado, IAA researcher and lead author of the study. “In the case of the flash we have studied, GRB200415, which occurred on April 15, 2020 and lasted only about one tenth of a second, the energy that was released is equivalent to the energy that our Sun radiates in 100,000 years“he added.

Observations of the phenomenon, detected by the ASIM instrument on board the International Space Station, made it possible to estimate that the volume of the flare was similar or even greater than that of the neutron star itself.

It is not known for sure what causes these extreme cosmic events, but the researchers believe it could be due to instabilities in the magnetosphere of magnetars or “earthquakes“produced in its bark.

“This eruption has provided a crucial component to understanding how magnetic stresses are produced in and around a neutron star,” Castro-Tirado noted, concluding that “continuous monitoring of magnetars in nearby galaxies will help to understand this phenomenon and also will pave the way to learn more about fast radio bursts, to this day one of the most enigmatic phenomena in astronomy“.

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