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Topic: Pulsars

NASA’s X-ray Telescopes may have found reclusive Neutron Star in Famous Supernova

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – What remains of the star that exploded just outside our galaxy in 1987? Debris has obscured scientists’ view, but two of NASA’s X-ray telescopes have revealed new clues.

Since astronomers captured the bright explosion of a star on February 24th, 1987, researchers have been searching for the squashed stellar core that should have been left behind. A group of astronomers using data from NASA space missions and ground-based telescopes may have finally found it.

Supernova 1987A exploded more than 30 years ago and is still surrounded by debris. The energetic environment has been imaged by NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR (shown in blue) and the Chandra X-ray Observatory (shown in red), which has finer resolution. (NASA/CXC)

Supernova 1987A exploded more than 30 years ago and is still surrounded by debris. The energetic environment has been imaged by NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR (shown in blue) and the Chandra X-ray Observatory (shown in red), which has finer resolution. (NASA/CXC)

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NASA’s NICER telescope records sudden spike of X-Rays

 

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MDNASA’s Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) telescope on the International Space Station detected a sudden spike of X-rays at about 9:04pm CDT on August 20th. The burst was caused by a massive thermonuclear flash on the surface of a pulsar, the crushed remains of a star that long ago exploded as a supernova.

The X-ray burst, the brightest seen by NICER so far, came from an object named SAX J1808.4-3658, or J1808 for short. The observations reveal many phenomena that have never been seen together in a single burst. In addition, the subsiding fireball briefly brightened again for reasons astronomers cannot yet explain.

Illustration depicting a Type I X-ray burst. The explosion first blows off the hydrogen layer, which expands and ultimately dissipates. Then rising radiation builds to the point where it blows off the helium layer, which overtakes the expanding hydrogen. Some of the X-rays emitted in the blast scatter off of the accretion disk. The fireball then quickly cools, and the helium settles back onto the surface. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith (USRA))

Illustration depicting a Type I X-ray burst. The explosion first blows off the hydrogen layer, which expands and ultimately dissipates. Then rising radiation builds to the point where it blows off the helium layer, which overtakes the expanding hydrogen. Some of the X-rays emitted in the blast scatter off of the accretion disk. The fireball then quickly cools, and the helium settles back onto the surface. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith (USRA))

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NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope team creates set of new Constellations

 

Written by Francis Reddy
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – NASA says Long ago, sky watchers linked the brightest stars into patterns reflecting animals, heroes, monsters and even scientific instruments into what is now an official collection of 88 constellations. Now scientists with NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have devised a set of modern constellations constructed from sources in the gamma-ray sky to celebrate the mission’s 10th year of operations.

The new constellations include a few characters from modern myths. Among them are the Little Prince, the time-warping TARDIS from “Doctor Who,” Godzilla and his heat ray, the antimatter-powered U.S.S. Enterprise from “Star Trek: The Original Series” and the Hulk, the product of a gamma-ray experiment gone awry.

New, unofficial constellations appear in this image of the sky mapped by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Fermi scientists devised the constellations to highlight the mission’s 10th year of operations. Fermi has mapped about 3,000 gamma-ray sources — 10 times the number known before its launch and comparable to the number of bright stars in the traditional constellations. (NASA)

New, unofficial constellations appear in this image of the sky mapped by NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope. Fermi scientists devised the constellations to highlight the mission’s 10th year of operations. Fermi has mapped about 3,000 gamma-ray sources — 10 times the number known before its launch and comparable to the number of bright stars in the traditional constellations. (NASA)

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NASA Scientists use “Pulsar in a Box” to gain better understanding of Neutron Stars

 

Written by Francis Reddy
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationGreenbelt, MD – An international team of scientists studying what amounts to a computer-simulated “pulsar in a box” are gaining a more detailed understanding of the complex, high-energy environment around spinning neutron stars, also called pulsars.

The model traces the paths of charged particles in magnetic and electric fields near the neutron star, revealing behaviors that may help explain how pulsars emit gamma-ray and radio pulses with ultraprecise timing.

Electrons (blue) and positrons (red) from a computer-simulated pulsar. These particles become accerlated to extreme energies in a pulsar's powerful magnetic and electric fields; lighter tracks show particles with higher energies. Each particle seen here actually represents trillions of electrons or positrons. (NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

Electrons (blue) and positrons (red) from a computer-simulated pulsar. These particles become accerlated to extreme energies in a pulsar’s powerful magnetic and electric fields; lighter tracks show particles with higher energies. Each particle seen here actually represents trillions of electrons or positrons. (NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center)

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NASA uses Pulsars to detect Gravitational Waves

 

Written by Elizabeth Landau
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – One of the most spectacular achievements in physics so far this century has been the observation of gravitational waves, ripples in space-time that result from masses accelerating in space.

So far, there have been five detections of gravitational waves, thanks to the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and, more recently, the European Virgo gravitational-wave detector. Using these facilities, scientists have been able to pin down the extremely subtle signals from relatively small black holes and, as of October, neutron stars.

This computer simulation shows the collision of two black holes, which produces gravitational waves. (SXS)

This computer simulation shows the collision of two black holes, which produces gravitational waves. (SXS)

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NASA’s Astrophysics Explorers Program to explore Exotic Astronomical Objects

 

Written by Felicia Chou
NASA Headquarters

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationWashington, D.C. – NASA has selected a science mission that will allow astronomers to explore, for the first time, the hidden details of some of the most extreme and exotic astronomical objects, such as stellar and supermassive black holes, neutron stars and pulsars.

Objects such as black holes can heat surrounding gases to more than a million degrees. The high-energy X-ray radiation from this gas can be polarized – vibrating in a particular direction.

NASA Selects Mission to Study Black Holes, Cosmic X-ray Mysteries

NASA Selects Mission to Study Black Holes, Cosmic X-ray Mysteries

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NASA reports Radio Telescopes could soon detect Low-Frequency Gravitational Waves

 

Written by Elizabeth Ferrara
NANOGrav

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – The recent detection of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) came from two black holes, each about 30 times the mass of our sun, merging into one. Gravitational waves span a wide range of frequencies that require different technologies to detect.

A new study from the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) has shown that low-frequency gravitational waves could soon be detectable by existing radio telescopes.

Gravitational waves are ripples in space-time, represented by the green grid, produced by accelerating bodies such as interacting supermassive black holes. These waves affect the time it takes for radio signals from pulsars to arrive at Earth. (David Champion)

Gravitational waves are ripples in space-time, represented by the green grid, produced by accelerating bodies such as interacting supermassive black holes. These waves affect the time it takes for radio signals from pulsars to arrive at Earth. (David Champion)

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NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) hears the possible sounds of Dead Stars

 

Written by Whitney Clavin
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space AdministrationPasadena, CA – Peering into the heart of the Milky Way galaxy, NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) has spotted a mysterious glow of high-energy X-rays that, according to scientists, could be the “howls” of dead stars as they feed on stellar companions.

“We can see a completely new component of the center of our galaxy with NuSTAR’s images,” said Kerstin Perez of Columbia University in New York, lead author of a new report on the findings in the journal Nature. “We can’t definitively explain the X-ray signal yet — it’s a mystery. More work needs to be done.”

NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has captured a new high-energy X-ray view (magenta) of the bustling center of our Milky Way galaxy. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA’s Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR, has captured a new high-energy X-ray view (magenta) of the bustling center of our Milky Way galaxy. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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