CREDIT: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Univ. of West Virginia/H. Blumer; Infrared (Spitzer and Wise): NASA/JPL-CalTech/Spitzer
At the most basic level, magnetars are neutron stars. When some of the larger stars in our universe run out of fuel for fusion in their cores, they collapse down until protons and electrons are no longer able to stay separated. Under the force of gravity, these particles combine, and in a flash of energy and particles, they transform into a dense sphere of neutrons. Only about 3000 neutron stars have so far been discovered, and of these, only 31 have turned out to be magnetars. With each newly found object, magnetars are proving themselves to be even weirder than previously thought.
That thirty-first magnetar was discovered March 12, 2020, by astronomers using the Swift space telescope. It was found thanks to a burst of X-rays it emitted. We discussed this object on our podcast last June. Initially, all we knew was this bursting system is only about 500 years old; It is perhaps the youngest magnetar ever found!
New research coming out in Astrophysical Journal Letters, by Harsha Blumer and Samar Safi-Harb, presents follow-up results that use a myriad of telescopes to peer at this system in ...