Newly discovered radio transient may be a rare white dwarf pulsar

(ORDO NEWS) — A new study led by a team led by Jonathan Katz at Washington University in St. Louis, USA, shows that a recently discovered periodic radio transient, called GLEAM-X J162759.5-523504.3, may actually be the object of a rare class – a white dwarf pulsar.

Pulsars are highly magnetized, rotating neutron stars that emit streams of electromagnetic radiation. Usually these objects are detected in the form of short radio pulses, but sometimes some of them can also be observed in the optical, X-ray and gamma bands.

Some astronomers believe that a rotating magnetized white dwarf may exhibit pulsar activity. So far, only one candidate object of this class of “white dwarf pulsars” has been discovered.

This source is called AR Scorpii and contains a rapidly rotating white dwarf that bombards the surface of a red dwarf companion star with powerful streams of electrically charged particles and radiation. This causes the system brightness to change dramatically twice within two minutes.

GLEAM-XJ162759.5–523504.3 is a recently discovered pulsar with a rotation period of about 1091 seconds. It exhibits transient radio flares about one month apart, with the duration of the flare itself ranging from 30 to 60 seconds.

According to observations, the pulsed power emitted by this source in the radio range is more than an order of magnitude higher than the calculated power obtained by measuring the deceleration of the pulsar’s rotation.

According to previous studies, this behavior of the source can be explained by the long-term evolution of the neutron star, but Katz in his study shows that the unusual properties of the source are well explained if it is assumed to be a white dwarf pulsar.

The emitted power of radio pulses of white dwarfs is generally higher than the power of radio pulses of neutron stars, since a white dwarf has a moment of inertia that exceeds that of a neutron star by five orders of magnitude. In addition, the white dwarf hypothesis explains the system’s anomalously long period, Katz explained.


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