Detection of a pulsar that tore a fellow

Detection of a pulsar that tore a fellow

NASA has announced the discovery of a rare “black widow” binary star system 3,000 light-years from Earth.

Simulation of a typical black widow binary star system. Image: NASA

To date, only about 20 pairs of black widow binary stars are known in the Milky Way. They usually contain a pulsar (a very fast rotating neutron star) that steals matter from a co-star. When a very large mass of material accumulates on the surface, the pulsar emits an explosion of X-rays and gamma rays, which continue its destruction.

Named ZTF J1406 + 1222 for celestial coordinates, the newly discovered pair is the Black Widow binary star system with which Pulsar and its allies have the closest relationship ever. In just 62 seasons it has been locked in “orbital dance”. Minutes, according to research published in the journal Nature At 4/5.

A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, led by Kevin Burg, found ZTF J1406 + 1222 in a data warehouse collected by the Palomer Observatory in California.

As the accumulating mass fell on the pulsar, the extra angular momentum it provided accelerated the pulsar’s rotation by hundreds of revolutions per second, making it a millisecond pulsar.

The faster the pulsar rotates, the more radiation the pulsar emits and heats up the opposite side of the co-star. Burgard’s team says that this makes a significant difference in the brightness between the two hemispheres of the companion star. Thus, as the pulsar and its companion orbit each other, we see the star occasionally glow and fade. “So, instead of looking directly at the pulsar, try to look for a warmer companion,” Burgard said.

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However, ZTF J1406 + 1222 does not appear to be a typical black video binary star system because no X-rays or gamma rays are detected, which are signatures needed to confirm the object’s existence. Therefore, the system needs to learn more.

Astronomers believe that most black widow binary star systems form within spherical clusters. If such clusters orbit very close to the center of our Milky Way, intense gravity from the supermassive black hole there will tear the structure apart and scatter the stars in the galaxy.

“This is a complex situation. This system has been orbiting the Milky Way for perhaps longer than our Sun,” Burdge added.

Don Duong (O Location)

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