Monday, July 22, 2024

‘Magnetic monster’ sign of impending explosion in space – Cedar News

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Astronomers have discovered a new type of star described as a “magnetic monster” that could one day explode and become a rare “magnetic star”.

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Using several telescopes around the world, including facilities at the European Southern Observatory (ESO), scientists have discovered HD 45166, a helium-rich star located about 3,000 light-years from Earth in the Unicorn constellation.

But what makes it so special is that it’s the only massive helium star astronomers have ever observed with a magnetic field, and a strong one at that.

HD 45166 has such a strong magnetic field (100,000 times stronger than Earth’s) that astronomers think it will become a magnet when it explodes in a supernova in about a million years.

Magnetos are a type of neutron star (the collapsed cores of some massive stars that reach the mass of our Sun in a city-sized area). It is a compact, highly magnetic galactic remnant that violently ejects bursts of energy with the most intense magnetic fields in the universe.

Little is known about the origin of magnets, but experts believe that HD 45166 may finally shed light on their origin.

André-Nicolas Cheney of NOIRLab, an astronomical research center in Tucson, Arizona, said: “For the first time, a strong magnetic field has been detected in a massive helium star. Our study indicates that this helium star will end its life as a magnet.

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NASA describes magnets as the “superheroes of the interstellar world” because they have a strong magnetic field that has baffled scientists for years.

In a typical neutron star, the magnetic field is trillions of times stronger than Earth’s, but in Earth’s magnetic field it is another 1,000 times stronger.

Therefore, magnetars are a very special type of neutron star.

However, astronomers don’t know how magnets form, how common they are, or even how they create massive magnetic fields.

Also, the magnets are very small (15 to 20 km in diameter), so even the best telescopes are too far away to see any detail on their surface.

The team made the observations using an instrument that can detect and measure magnetic fields at telescopes in Canada, France and Hawaii.

In particular, they turned their attention to HD 45166, a star known to astronomers for more than a century.

The first observations of the star were made in 1922 and astronomer Carol Jane Unger noted it as “the first of its kind” in a 1933 publication.

The lead author of the new study, Tomer Schnarr of the University of Amsterdam, said he and his colleagues suspected the star was strange, but did not think it could be the precursor to a magnet.

He added, “It was only at a later stage that the hypothesis that it might be magnetic arose and was later substantiated by new data presented in our study.”

Observations revealed that HD 45166 has an incredibly strong magnetic field of 43,000 gauss (gauss – the unit of magnetic induction).

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This makes it the only massive helium star ever detected using a magnetic field, as well as the strongest magnetic field ever detected in a star.

And 43,000 gauss is roughly 100,000 times stronger than Earth’s magnetic field (which helps compasses work and birds navigate).

A strong wind of particles blowing from HD 45166 is trapped in its magnetic field, enclosing the star in a gaseous envelope.

The team is confident that HD 45166 will become a magnet in about 1 million years, a relatively short period on the astronomical time scale given that Earth is 4.5 billion years old.

For a star to become a magnet, it must meet two conditions that scientists believe HD 45166 meets. First, it must become a neutron star when it dies. Second, it requires a sufficiently strong magnetic field, which the team certainly thinks HD 45166 will do.

According to Schner, HD 45166 has no known planets orbiting it and is unlikely to be discovered.

A new study by an international team of astronomers is published in the journal Science.

Source: Daily Mail

Responsibility for News: Cedar News is not responsible for the form or content of this news, and it expresses only the views of its source or author.

Nadia Barnett
Nadia Barnett
"Award-winning beer geek. Extreme coffeeaholic. Introvert. Avid travel specialist. Hipster-friendly communicator."

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