DR. SKY BLOG

The mystery of magnetars has possibly been solved

Nov 11, 2020, 2:00 PM

The universe is filled with many mysteries and the discoveries keep on coming!

As you read this column, remember that you only get to see 4% of the entire visible universe and that 4% can be very amazing.

The universe is expanding and has been since the Big Bang event some 13.5 billion years ago.

Astronomers have been observing another amazing event in our visible universe in the form of magnetars. A magnetar is a strange neutron star which has a super powerful magnetic field around it.

Magnetars have been found to emit some of the most powerful blasts of energy in the form of fast radio bursts (FRBs).

Like neutron stars, magnetars are thought to be the remnants of larger stars and may have a diameter around 12 miles in diameter.

That presents a most amazing situation in nature, as the material of this type of star is so compacted that a teaspoon of it may weigh a billion tons.

This is very hard to imagine in our world, but these unique objects can and do emit some of the most powerful blasts of energy in the entire cosmos!

The energy released from a Fast Radio Burst, was first detected back in 1979, but the source was not known.

The energy in these bursts are mostly in the gamma ray region of the spectrum.

Here is a graphic of what a magnetar may look like.

A recent discovery of a magnetar within 30,000 light years of Earth may have captured the elusive fast radio burst event.

The magnetic field of the magnetar is rated around 1 quadrillion gauss. That is so powerful that if the magnetar was within the distance of the moon, it would tear apart the very molecules and atoms that make up the world as we know it!

That would be a very strange and unwelcome event, indeed.

Here is a short video on just how powerful the magnetar and associated fast radio bursts would be on Earth.

The source of the fast radio burst many believe lies on the surface of the magnetar, as twisted magnetic fields can warp and produce the strange event known as a “starquake.”

This rapid shaking of the crust of the star, produces a stream of super charged gamma and X-ray radiation, like a stream of water from a hose.

The closest of the known magnetars is an object called 1E 1048.1, which is located 9,000 light years from Earth in the southern constellation of Carina.

Lets hope that we never get to detect a rouge magnetar moving about the universe that has a close proximity to the sun.

For now, magnetars are at the cutting edge of observation by astronomers around the world and I am sure that more information on the actual mechanism of energy transfer is right around the corner.

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday morning at 3 a.m.

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The mystery of magnetars has possibly been solved