(ORDO NEWS) — Magnetars are one of the most mysterious astronomical objects. One teaspoon of magnetar matter weighs about one billion tons, and the magnetic fields of magnetars are hundreds of millions of times stronger than any magnetic field that can be created on Earth.
But we know little about the formation of magnetars. In the new paper, the findings point to one possible source – collisions between neutron stars.
Before two neutron stars combine, they first move relative to each other in a gravitational dance for hundreds of millions of years before an explosion occurs, in the place of which a black hole or magnetar is then left.
However, in the new study, astronomers were incredibly lucky – they observed a magnetar that formed just a few weeks before the start of observations.
More strictly speaking, this event occurred approximately 228 million years ago – that’s how long it takes for light to reach our planet from the galaxy in which the outbreak occurred.
However, after a long space journey, this light reached the sensors of the Pan-STARRs telescope just a few weeks before the authors of the work began observations of the corresponding part of the sky.
This magnetar stands out among other objects of its kind with a high rotation speed.
Usually neutron stars, of which magnetars are a subclass, rotate at a frequency of the order of thousands of revolutions per second, that is, they have rotation periods of the order of milliseconds.
At the same time, typical magnetars rotate much more slowly, making one revolution around their axis within 2-10 seconds.
But this new magnetar, designated GRB130310A, has a rotation period of about 80 milliseconds, making it more like conventional neutron stars than magnetars.
Probably, such an anomalously high rotation speed of this magnetar is due to the fact that it was formed only relatively recently, the authors believe.
Over time, the rotational speed of magnetars decreases, and eventually they cease to radiate energy at a level that our radio telescopes can detect, they explained.
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