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Brightest neutron star yet has a multipolar magnetic field

Date:
February 21, 2017
Source:
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Summary:
Scientists have identified a neutron star that is consuming material so fast it emits more x-rays than any other. Its extreme brightness can only be explained if the star has a complex multipolar magnetic field, the researchers say.
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Scientists have identified a neutron star that is consuming material so fast it emits more x-rays than any other. Its extreme brightness can only be explained if the star has a complex multipolar magnetic field, the researchers say. Ultraluminous x-ray sources (ULXs) are seen in some nearby galaxies and shine brighter than any x-ray source in our own galaxy.

Simple calculations show that, for such an intense amount of energy to be emitted, ULXs should be powered by black holes accreting surrounding material.

Here, using the X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission (XMM-Newton) and Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) space telescopes, Gian Luca Israel and colleagues detected periodic signals in x-rays emitted by a ULX in the nearby spiral galaxy NGC 5907, indicating that it is instead powered by a spinning neutron star.

The star, known as NGC 5907 ULX, is accreting material so fast that its spin period is accelerating at astounding rates -- it evolved from 1.43 seconds in 2003 to 1.13 seconds in 2014. Its peak luminosity exceeds the Eddington limit, the theoretical maximum set by the balance between the force of radiation acting outward and the gravitational force acting inward, by roughly 1,000 times what would be expected for a neutron star.

The authors say that the only way to explain the data is if the neutron star does not have a simple (dipolar) magnetic field. Modelling shows that a strong, multipolar magnetic field could explain the extreme properties of NGC 5907 ULX and how it exceeds the Eddington limit.


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Materials provided by American Association for the Advancement of Science. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Gian Luca Israel, Andrea Belfiore, Luigi Stella, Paolo Esposito, Piergiorgio Casella, Andrea De Luca, Martino Marelli, Alessandro Papitto, Matteo Perri, Simonetta Puccetti, Guillermo A. Rodríguez Castillo, David Salvetti, Andrea Tiengo, Luca Zampieri, Daniele D’Agostino, Jochen Greiner, Frank Haberl, Giovanni Novara, Ruben Salvaterra, Roberto Turolla, Mike Watson, Joern Wilms, Anna Wolter. An accreting pulsar with extreme properties drives an ultraluminous x-ray source in NGC 5907. Science, 2017; eaai8635 DOI: 10.1126/science.aai8635

Cite This Page:

American Association for the Advancement of Science. "Brightest neutron star yet has a multipolar magnetic field." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 February 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170221161532.htm>.
American Association for the Advancement of Science. (2017, February 21). Brightest neutron star yet has a multipolar magnetic field. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170221161532.htm
American Association for the Advancement of Science. "Brightest neutron star yet has a multipolar magnetic field." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170221161532.htm (accessed May 26, 2017).

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