Chinese satellite has discovered the strongest magnetic field in the universe

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(ORDO NEWS) — A team of astronomers conducted extensive observations of the accreting X-ray pulsar GRO J1008-57 and discovered a magnetic field of approximately 1 billion Tesla on the surface of the neutron star. It is the strongest magnetic field found in the universe.

The work was published in the Astrophysical Journal. It was conducted by scientists from the Institute for High Energy Physics (IHEP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen, Germany.

Scientists have studied the GRO J1008-57 X-ray pulsar, detected by the Insight-HXMT satellite during an outbreak in August 2017. They first discovered the 90 keV cyclotron resonance scattering function (CRSF) at a significance level> 20σ. The scientific community confirms a new scientific discovery when its significance level exceeds 5σ. According to theoretical calculations, the magnetic field corresponding to this CRSF is up to 1 billion Tesla, which is tens of millions of times stronger than what can be produced in the laboratories of the Earth.

Insight-HXMT is China‘s first X-ray astronomical satellite. It includes a scientific payload, including a high energy telescope, a medium energy telescope, a low energy telescope, and a space environment monitor. Compared to other X-ray satellites, Insight-HXMT has outstanding advantages in detecting cyclotron lines (especially at high energies) due to its broadband (1-250 keV) spectral coverage, large effective area at high energies.

Neutron stars have the strongest magnetic fields in the universe. X-ray binary neutron stars are systems composed of a neutron star and an ordinary stellar companion. The neutron star accretes matter and forms a surrounding accretion disk. If the magnetic field is strong, the accreted matter is directed by magnetic lines to the surface of the neutron star, which results in X-rays.

As a result, these sources are also called “pulsars”. Previous studies have shown that a specific absorption feature (known as the “cyclotron resonance scattering characteristic”) can sometimes be found in the spectrum of X-ray pulsars. Scientists believe this is caused by transitions between discrete Landau levels of electron motion perpendicular to the magnetic field. This scattering function acts as a direct probe for the magnetic field near the surface of the neutron star.


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