Astronomers observe unprecedented detail in the pulsar at 6,500 light years from Earth – HeritageDaily

A team of astronomers has made one of the highest-resolution observations in astronomical history by looking at two regions of intense radiation, 20 kilometers away, around a star 6500 light-years away.

The observation is equivalent to using a telescope on Earth to see a flea on the surface of Pluto.

The extraordinary observation was made possible by the rare geometry and characteristics of a pair of stars orbiting each other. One is a cool, lightweight star called a brown dwarf, with a "wake" or gas tail similar to a comet. The other is an exotic star that quickly rotates called pulsar.

"The gas acts like a magnifying glbad right in front of the pulsar," says Robert Main, lead author of the article describing the observation published on May 24. in the journal Nature . "We are basically looking at the pulsar through a natural magnifying glbad that periodically allows us to see the two regions separately."

Principal is a Ph.D. student in astronomy in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto, working with colleagues at the Dunlap Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Toronto and the Canadian Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics, and the Institute Perimeter.

The pulsar is a neutron star that rotates rapidly, more than 600 times per second. As the pulsar rotates, it emits radiation beams from the two access points on its surface. The intense regions of radiation that are observed are badociated with the rays.

The brown dwarf star is about one third the diameter of the Sun. It is approximately two million kilometers from the pulsar, or five times the distance between Earth and the Moon, and orbits around it in just over 9 hours . The dwarf companion star is closed by tide with the pulsar, so that one side always faces its pulsating partner, the way the moon is fixed by tide to Earth.

Because it is so close to the pulsar, the brown dwarf star is attacked, the strong radiation comes from its smaller companion. The intense radiation of the pulsar heats one side of the relatively cold dwarf star to the temperature of our Sun, or about 6000 ° C.

The explosion of the pulsar could ultimately mean the death of his companion. Pulsars in this type of binary systems are called "black widow" pulsars. Just as a black widow spider eats its companion, it is believed that the pulsar, given the right conditions, could gradually erode the gas from the dwarf star until it is consumed.

In addition to being an incredibly high resolution observation, the result could be a clue to the nature of mysterious phenomena known as Fast Radio Bursts, or FRB.

"Many of the observed properties of FRBs could be explained if they are being amplified by plasma lenses," says Main. "The properties of the amplified pulses we detected in our study show a remarkable similarity to the explosions of the repeated FRB, suggesting that the repetitive FRB can be projected by plasma in its host galaxy."

DUNLAP INSTITUTE FOR ASTRONOMY & ASTROPHYSICS [19659013] Pressing PSR B1957 + 20 is seen in the background through the gas cloud that envelops its fellow brown dwarf star. Credit: Dr. Mark A. Garlick; Dunlap Institute of Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of Toronto

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