(ORDO NEWS) — On October 5, 2020, a rapidly spinning neutron star located about 30,000 light-years from Earth changed speed.
Her rotation suddenly slowed down. A few days later, she suddenly began to emit radio waves.
Thanks to timely measurements made by specialized orbiting telescopes, astrophysicist Matthew Baring of Rice University and colleagues were able to test a new theory about the possible cause of the rare slowdown of SGR 1935+2154, the high-field neutron star known as a magnetar.
Magnetars emit intense radiation, including X-rays and sometimes radio waves and gamma rays.
The rotation periods of magnetars usually change slowly, taking tens of thousands of years to slow down by one revolution per second.
Glitches sometimes occur, Baring says, an increase in rotational speed that is most often caused by sudden shifts deep within the star.
However, such decelerations as in SGR 1935+2154 were recorded by astronomers only three times.
In the study Baring and co-authors used X-ray data from the European Space Agency‘s X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission (XMM-Newton) and NASA‘s Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) program to analyze the rotation of a magnetar.
The scientists concluded that the sudden slowdown could be caused by a volcano-like rupture on the star’s surface that ejected a stream of massive particles into space.
The study found that such a “wind” can change the star’s magnetic fields, creating conditions that could lead to radio emission.
“Our results indicate that this could be the case, and that in this case the break likely occurred at or near the star’s magnetic pole.”
Baring believes that this stream of particles coming from the star over several hours could create the conditions for a decrease in the rotation period.
“Our calculations showed that such a wind would also have the ability to change the geometry of the magnetic field outside the neutron star,” the researcher said.
The rip could also be a volcanic formation because, according to Baring, the general properties of the X-ray pulsation require the wind to be launched from a localized area on the surface.
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