It is the most powerful of the pulsars

In a dwarf galaxy nearly 400 million light-years from ours, an object has recently caught the attention of astronomers. It may be one of the youngest and most powerful pulsars ever discovered. And scientists hope it will help them solve the mystery of fast radio outbreaks (FRBs).

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[EN VIDÉO] A “black widow” pulsar devours her companion
When talking about spiders, black widow spiders are the ones that devour their mates after mating. And astronomers have observed similar behaviors in the sky. When a pulsar and a low-mass star form a binary system. Faced with the radiation emitted by the pulsar, the star has little chance of surviving long. (in English) © NASA Goddard

Its nickname is VT 1137-0337. It breeds in a dwarf galaxy containing about 100 million times lot of ours Sun and is around 395 millionlight years of our earth. And according to what the researchers presented in Pasadena (USA) below American Astronomical Union Congressit is one of the youngest neutron stars never discovered. A pulsar that would not be more than 60 to 80 years old!

But all this deserves clarification. First, remember that a neutron star is what is left of a supermassive star that exploded into supernova. An extremely dense remnant, as it within a diameter of only a few tens of kilometers retains a mass comparable to our Sols. And one pulsar, this is the term used to denote a neutron star that rotates extremely fast about its axis. Sometimes in just a few milliseconds.

What astronomers think they have discovered in data from VLA Sky Surveyit’s actually what they call a fog of wind of pulses. It is formed by charged particles accelerated by a powerful magnetic field Have gear close to the light after a supernova explosion gave birth to a pulsar. This pulsar wind fog first appeared on an image taken in 2018.

A key to the mystery of fast radio outbursts?

Still, the neutron star that generated it is probably not quite as young. The researchers believe that VT 1137-0337 did not appear earlier because its discharge the radio was to be hidden by debris from the supermassive star’s first supernova explosion. With expansion from this the radio waves must finally be able to reach us.

Note that this is not the first time astronomers have observed a pulsar nebula. The known crab fog, in the constellation Taurus, is one. She was born from a supernova that appeared in the year 1054. And remains visible using one telescope amateur. The difference between crab fog and VT 1137-0337 is that the latter appears to be no less than 10,000 times more energetic. With a much stronger magnetic field. What gave him the nickname “Good crab” show up.

And the fact that its magnetic field is so strong could even expel it from the category of pulsar mist. VT 1137-0337 could hide … a magnetar. The very same people who are strongly suspected of being behind it rapid radio bursts. The famous FRBs that fascinate astronomers so much. More than just a magnetar, VT 1137-0337 would then be neither more nor less than the whole first magnetar “caught in popping up”.

Even more exciting, it exciting features of some fast radio outbursts – radio outbursts associated with persistent radio signals – have strong similarities with the properties of this strange object. What also raises the following questions in the end: could not FRBs also find their source in pulsar nebulae? Astronomers now intend to monitor VT 1137-0337 closely to learn more about this strange object and its evolution over time.

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