Astronomers have identified the most powerful pulsar in a distant galaxy

(ORDO NEWS) — Neutron stars are the dense remnants of large stars. These are the collapsed cores of stars formed during a supernova explosion.

Although we generally know how they form, we are still learning how they develop, especially at a young age.

But that is starting to change thanks to major surveys of the sky that have allowed astronomers to observe a neutron star that could be a little over a decade old.

The neutron star in question is known as VT 1137-0337. It lies in a dwarf galaxy about 400 million light-years away and was first seen in 2018 by the Very Large Sky Survey (VLASS). VLASS is a seven-year project to create a radio map of the sky. When completed, it will map about 80 percent of the sky over three separate launches.

After first image capturing VT 1137-0337 in 2018, he saw the neutron star again in 2019, 2020. , and 2022. Thus, we know that this is not just some kind of temporary radio burst.

Based on observations, the object is most likely a pulsar wind nebula. As the neutron star rotates, its magnetic field and energy beams pass through the surrounding nebula, causing the gas in the nebula to ionize and emit radio emission.

What’s interesting about VT 1137-0337 is that it’s not. seen in an earlier VLA sky survey known as the Dim Twenty Centimeter Radio Sky Imaging (FIRST) taken in 1998. Thus, somewhere between 1998 and 2018, a neutron star appeared.

Astronomers have identified the most powerful pulsar in a distant galaxy 2
VLA images of the location of VT 1137-0337 in 1998 (left) and in 2018 (right). The object became visible to the VLA sometime between these two dates

At first glance, this means that VT 1137-0337 is less than twenty years old, but it may be a little older. . It is possible that the neutron star existed in 1998, but the surrounding nebula was still dense enough to block radio emission from reaching us.

But given the speed at which supernova remnants are expanding, the fog must have dissipated within 60-60 million 80 years, which means that even by the oldest estimates it is tens of years old, not centuries or millennia. VT 1137-0337 is a very young neutron star, perhaps only 14 years old.

The radio energy of VT 1137-0337 is 10,000 times more powerful than that of the Crab Nebula, created by a supernova in 1054 AD. This means that it has a much more powerful magnetic field.

So powerful that VT 1137-0337 may be in the process of becoming a magnetar. Magnetars are highly magnetic neutron stars that are likely to be the cause of fast radio bursts (FRBs).

Thus, this may be the first observation of the birth of a magnetar, but it will not be the last. As astronomers conduct future surveys of the sky, they are sure to discover more births of these powerful objects.

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