The discovery of a single neutron producing unusual radio signals in our Milky Way galaxy has puzzled astronomers. The neutron star emitted a strange flash or pulse 1,300 light-years away that lasted about 300 milliseconds. The flash looked like a neutron star emitting radios. However, the researchers say it was unlike anything they had observed before. They discovered several similar pulses occurring every seven seconds after a thorough study of the area. This was different from previous neutron star discoveries.
The researchers suspect their discovery could pave the way for a whole new class of stellar objects. Manisha Caleb, a senior lecturer at the University of Sydney, and her colleagues made the discovery while observing the Vela-X 1 region of the Milky Way, using the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa.
Caleb described the discovery in a detailed article. Observation showed that the newly found object, named PSR J0941-4046, had some characteristics of a “pulsar” or even a “magnetar”.
Their findings were published in the journal Natural astronomy.
Pulsars are the dense remnants of massive stars that have imploded. They typically emit radio waves from their poles, which can be measured from Earth as the pulsars rotate. Due to the rotation, they appear as a periodically flashing beacon in the distance. A magnetar, on the other hand, has an ultra-strong magnetic field and releases large amounts of energy in the form of flares (X-rays and gamma-ray bursts).
However, the researcher said the longest known rotation of a pulsar so far was 23.5 seconds – meaning they may have found a whole new class of radio-emitting objects.
Further analysis of the data revealed to researchers that PSR J0941-4046 is an unusual neutron star that rotates extremely slowly compared to other pulsars. The object is also unique because it resides in the “graveyard” of neutron stars – a region of space where astronomers do not expect to detect radio emissions.
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