Free Newsletters - Space - Defense - Environment - Energy - Solar - Nuclear
..
. 24/7 Space News .




STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Fledgling supernova remnant reveals neutron star's secrets
by Staff Writers
Madison WI (SPX) Dec 08, 2013


Sebastian Heinz.

With the help of NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Australia Telescope Compact Array, an international team of astronomers has identified the glowing wreck of a star that exploded a mere 2,500 years ago - the blink of an eye in astronomical terms.

The observations, made by a team led by University of Wisconsin-Madison astronomy professor Sebastian Heinz, reveal an astrophysical novelty of the Milky Way: a glowing nebula created when the star exploded and, inside of it, the collapsed core of the exploded star, a neutron star, still clinging to its former companion star. It is the only known example of such a system in our galaxy.

The new observations are reported Dec. 3 in the Astrophysical Journal and are important because they provide a unique laboratory to test key theories of stellar evolution, especially about the stage of a star's life just after most of it has been obliterated in a supernova explosion.

Situated in the plane of the Milky Way some 24,000 to 30,000 light years from Earth in the constellation Circinus, the neutron star Heinz and his colleagues studied is dubbed Circinus X-1. It is what astronomers call an X-ray binary, a system where an evolving star and a black hole or neutron star closely orbit one another and produce X-rays as material from the evolving star spirals in to its denser companion and is heated to very high temperatures.

Most X-ray binaries are quite old and no longer have a supernova remnant. To find the shell of ionized gas that marks the supernova blast that created the X-ray binary system is a rarity, according to Heinz. "It basically creates the historical record of that explosion. They don't last very long, so they are quite accurate clocks for finding things that are recent," says Heinz.

"This particular remnant is only about 2,500 years old, which makes the system the youngest known X-ray binary," Heinz explains, referring to the two-star system that is among the most luminous sources of X-rays in the galaxy. "In terms of a human lifetime, it would be roughly akin to a newborn just a few days old," adds Paul Sell, a former UW-Madison graduate student involved in the study.

When a once-massive star explodes as a supernova, it creates either a black hole or a neutron star, a condensed, rapidly-spinning cinder with extraordinary gravitational pull. Most neutron stars, which pack the mass of about 1.4 suns into a ball just 20 or so kilometers in diameter, exist in isolation. "In the Milky Way, there are only about a hundred other neutron stars we are aware of that have held onto their companion stars," Heinz notes.

It is much rarer still to observe the hallmark of a supernova explosion, the glowing cloud of ionized gas created by the shock wave of the blast as it crashes into the interstellar gas around the stars. "The shock wave from a supernova can only be seen for about 100,000 years or so before it dissipates and merges with the rest of the gas and dust around it in space," says Sell. "This is only a small fraction of the lifetime of an X-ray binary, making the chance to find one in this early phase of its life very small."

"The fact that we have this remnant along with the neutron star and its companion means we can test all kinds of things," says Heinz. "Our observations solve a number of puzzles both about this object and the way that neutron stars evolve after they are born. For example, the unusual elliptical orbit on which these two stars swing around each other is exactly what you would expect for a very young X-ray binary," notes Heinz.

However, the observations also pose new questions: Previous X-ray observations revealed that the Circinus X-1's neutron star has a relatively small magnetic field. "General theory holds neutron stars are born with a large magnetic field," says Heinz. "This newly minted neutron star has a field much smaller than expected."

Why that's the case remains a mystery. "Circinus X-1 appears to be a unique X-ray binary, probably in large part because it is so young," adds Sell, now a post-doctoral fellow at Texas Tech University.

.


Related Links
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Stellar Chemistry, The Universe And All Within It






Comment on this article via your Facebook, Yahoo, AOL, Hotmail login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News





STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Explosive growth of young star
Copenhagen, Denmark (SPX) Dec 08, 2013
A star is formed when a large cloud of gas and dust condenses and eventually becomes so dense that it collapses into a ball of gas, where the pressure heats the matter, creating a glowing gas ball - a star is born. New research from the Niels Bohr Institute, among others, shows that a young, newly formed star in the Milky Way had such an explosive growth, that it was initially about 100 times br ... read more


STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Silent Orbit for China's Moon Lander

China's most moon-like place

LADEE Instruments Healthy and Ready for Science

China launches first moon rover mission

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Rover results include first age and radiation measurements on Mars

Mars lake may have been friendly to microbes: NASA

One-way ticket to Mars: space colonists wanted!

Martian Laser Surpasses 100,000 Zaps

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Space exploration can drive the next agricultural revolution

Global patent growth hits 18-year high

Facebook joins NYU in artificial intelligence lab

LAS Tower Complete in Preparation for Orion's First Mission

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
China moon rover enters lunar orbit: Xinhua

Turkey keen on space cooperation with China

China space launch debris wrecks villagers' homes: report

Designer: moon rover uses cutting-edge technology

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
New crew to run space station in March

Russian android may take on outer space operations at ISS

Repurposing ISS Trash for Power and Water

Russian spacecraft with advanced navigation system docks with ISS

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Russian Proton-M rocket launches Inmarsat-5F1 satellite

Basic build-up is being completed for Arianespace's Soyuz to launch Gaia

Third time a charm: SpaceX launches commercial satellite

Arianespace's role as a partner for the US satellite industry

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
Hot Jupiters Highlight Challenges in the Search for Life Beyond Earth

Astronomers find strange planet orbiting where there shouldn't be one

Hubble Traces Subtle Signals of Water on Hazy Worlds

Astronomers detect water in atmosphere of distant exoplanets

STELLAR CHEMISTRY
SST Australia: Signed, Sealed and Ready for Delivery

Scientists build a low-cost, open-source 3D metal printer

An ecosystem-based approach to protect the deep sea from mining

Study shows how water dissolves stone, molecule by molecule




The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2014 - Space Media Network. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement