Magnetar Artist's Impression

Artist’s depiction of a magnetar. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada

  • Astronomers have just recently found the fastest spinning and possibly the youngest magnetar understood.
  • This item, known as J18180-1607, lies about 21,000 light years away in the Galaxy galaxy.
  • Magnetars are an unique class of neutron stars that possess extremely powerful electromagnetic fields.
  • Scientists used Chandra and other telescopes to find out about the uncommon properties of this things.


This image includes an exceptional magnetar, a kind of neutron star with very effective magnetic fields. Astronomers have found evidence that this things might be the youngest recognized magnetar (about 500 years of ages in Earth’s timeframe). It is likewise the fastest rotating one yet found (spinning about 1.4 times per second). This image shows the magnetar in X-rays from Chandra (purple) at the center of the image in mix with Spitzer and WISE infrared data showing the larger field of vision. Magnetars form when a huge star lacks nuclear fuel and its core collapses onto itself. Credit X-ray: NASA/CXC/University of West Virginia/H. Blumer; Infrared (Spitzer and Wise): NASA/JPL-Caltech/Spitzer

In 2020, astronomers added a new member to an exclusive family of exotic objects with the discovery of a magnetar. New observations from NASA‘s Chandra X-ray Observatory help support the concept that it is also a pulsar, suggesting it emits routine pulses of light.

Magnetars are a kind of neutron star, an incredibly dense things primarily made up of securely loaded neutrons, which forms from the collapsed core of an enormous star throughout a supernova.

What sets magnetars apart from other neutron stars is that they likewise have the most powerful known magnetic fields in the Universe. Magnetars, on the other hand, have magnetic fields of about a million billion Gauss.

On March 12, 2020, astronomers spotted a brand-new magnetar with NASA’s Neil Gehrels Swift Telescope. This is only the 31 st known magnetar, out of the around 3,000 known neutron stars.

After follow-up observations, scientists determined that this things, called J18180-1607, was special for other reasons. It may be the youngest recognized magnetar, with an age approximated to be about 500 years old. This is based upon how rapidly the rotation rate is slowing and the assumption that it was born spinning much faster. It likewise spins faster than any formerly discovered magnetar, rotating when around every 1.4 seconds.

The Chandra data revealed a point source where the magnetar was situated, which is surrounded by scattered X-ray emission, likely triggered by X-rays reflecting off dust located in its area.

Harsha Blumer of West Virginia University and Samar Safi-Harb of the University of Manitoba in Canada just recently published results from the Chandra observations of J18180-1607 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters

J1818 Labeled

The exact same image as above of the extraordinary magnetar, however with J1818 labeled. Credit X-ray: NASA/CXC/University of West Virginia/H. Blumer; Infrared (Spitzer and Wise): NASA/JPL-Caltech/Spitzer

This composite image consists of a wide field of view in the infrared from two NASA objectives, the Spitzer Space Telescope and the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), taken prior to the magnetar’s discovery. X-rays from Chandra reveal the magnetar in purple. The magnetar is located close to the plane of the Galaxy galaxy at a range of about 21,000 light years from Earth.

Other astronomers have actually likewise observed J18180-1607 with radio telescopes, such as the NSF’s Karl Jansky Huge Variety (VLA), and determined that it gives off radio waves. This suggests that it likewise has homes similar to that of a normal “rotation-powered pulsar,” a type of neutron star that produces beams of radiation that are spotted as duplicating pulses of emission as it turns and slows down. Just five magnetars including this one have been recorded to also imitate pulsars, constituting less than 0.2%of the recognized neutron star population.

J1818 Close Up

Close up of the extraordinary magnetar, J18180-1607 Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/University of West Virginia/H. Blumer; Infrared (Spitzer and Wise): NASA/JPL-CalTech/Spitzer

The Chandra observations might also offer support for this general idea. Safi-Harb and Blumer studied how effectively J18180-1607 is transforming energy from its reducing rate of spin into X-rays. They concluded this performance is lower than that generally found for magnetars, and most likely within the variety found for other rotation-powered pulsars.

The surge that produced a magnetar of this age would be anticipated to have actually left behind a noticeable particles field. In order to cover this distance the magnetar would require to have actually taken a trip at speeds far going beyond those of the fastest known neutron stars, even assuming it is much older than expected, which would permit more travel time.

Referral: “Chandra Observations of the Recently Discovered Magnetar Swift J18180–1607” by Harsha Blumer and Samar Safi-Harb, 26 November 2020, The Astrophysical Journal Letters
DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ abc6a2
arXiv: 2011.00324

NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center handles the Chandra program. The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s Chandra X-ray Center manages science from Cambridge Massachusetts and flight operations from Burlington, Massachusetts.


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