Researchers said that they had previously detected pulsars that beamed powerful wavelengths of light, but it is the first time that such powerful gamma-ray pulsar is spotted outside our galaxy.
The discovery was made while astronomers sifted through data gathered by the orbital observatory Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope’s Large Area Telescope. The telescope detected the pulsar in a galaxy close to ours called the Large Magellanic Cloud,
Pierrick Martin, a researcher at the Research Institute in Astrophysics and Planetology in France and co-author of the recently published study on the pulsar, explained that the space object is the brightest to date and the first gamma-ray pulsar to be detected outside or galaxy.
The second-brightest pulsar is the Crab pulsar which was detected in the crab nebula. But the recently found one is about twenty times brighter. Scientists now hope that the finding may help them better understand pulsars’ nature.
Pulsars emerge when massive stars end their lives. These stars have two options – they either collapse into a supermassive black hole or they explode and leave behind remarkably dense cores dubbed neutron stars.
Neutron stars can rotate very fast and beam electromagnetic radiation around them. These stars are also known as pulsars. When scientists first detected pulsars in 1967, they had evidence for the first time that neutron stars are real.
Pulsars are very dense. For instance, some of them are the size of a city and have nearly twice the mass of our sun. Pulsars emit beams of light from their poles and can only be detected when the beams are oriented toward Earth. From Earth, pulsars are seen as blinking stars on regular intervals.
The newly found pulsar was dubbed the ‘Crab twin’ because researchers often compared it with its peer from the Crab nebula. But the two pulsars have only in common the type of wavelength of light emitted.
“The surprise is how different they are: the so-called ‘Crab twin,’ is not such a twin at all,”
said Victoria Kaspi, of the McGill University who was not involved in the research.
Kaspi explained that the difference between energy outputs is tremendous. She likened the two ‘twin’-pulsars with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Danny DeVito in ‘Twins.’ Moreover, the Crab-twin is only 1,000 years old, but despite its young age it is extremelly powerful.
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