(ORDO NEWS) — From time to time, neutron stars do something very, very strange, and the speed of their rotation changes to the point of absurdity.
We don’t know why this happens, but astronomers have now observed it for the first time with a radio telescope.
The object in question is a neutron star called Pulsar de Vela, which is about 1000 light-years from Earth. In fact, it was the first such strange neutron star ever observed.
Since then, many similar anomalies have been observed; earlier, the radio telescope did not record them.
Observations from the radio telescope were able to tell us about the internal dynamics of the pulsar in which the anomaly was found.
In anticipation of the flaw, a team of astronomers observed the star for four years using the Mount Pleasant Radio Observatory in Tasmania and the Seduna Observatory in southern Australia.
“We knew that this anomaly happens every three years, but no one can predict it,” said Jim Palframeman, an astrophysicist at the University of Tasmania in Australia.
“We knew that if we were able to capture individual defects and impulses, this would give us a huge amount of information, including how matter behaves at extreme temperatures and pressures,” he concluded.
Neutron stars are what’s left of the core of a star that went supernova and died. In turn, pulsars are highly magnetized neutron stars with an unusually high rotation speed, which, as they rotate, emit jets of electromagnetic radiation. If these jets are directed to the sides relative to the Earth, then it will look like a kind of space beacon.
But what makes pulsars behave in such strange ways remains a mystery. One hypothesis is the tension between the rigid outer crust of a neutron star and its superfluid core.
Another hypothesis is that the billions of subsurface vortices in the superfluid are shifting, causing the neutron star to accelerate.
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