Feeds

Spitzer spies jets of matter around neutron star

Relatavistic, baby

Top three mobile application threats

Researchers at the University of Southampton have discovered a neutron star* that is producing jets of matter at its poles. Previously, it was thought that this behaviour was exclusive to black holes, specifically those in X-Ray binary systems.

An X-Ray binary system is one in which a collapsed star (a white dwarf, neutron star, or black hole) orbits a normal star so closely that its gravity pulls matter from the main star. This forms an accretion disk around the collapsed star, and as the material falls inwards, it emits X-rays - hence the name.

An impression of a black hole or neutron star X-ray binary system. Credit: Rob Hynes Louisiana State University

Black holes in these systems are known to produce relativistic jets of matter from their poles, which are very visible in the infrared spectrum.

Using the infrared Spitzer Space Telescope, the team spotted infrared jets coming from an x-ray binary system containing a neutron star, not a black hole. Physicists have long debated whether these jets are fuelled by a process unique to black holes, but this discovery makes it clear that whatever the process is, it must be at work in neutron stars as well.

Dr Thomas Maccarone, of the University of Southampton, says that by comparing the behaviour of the relativistic jets seen from neutron star X-Ray binaries and black hole X-Ray binaries, astronomers could learn more about the mechanism that produces them, and the effect the jets have on the black hole or neutron star.

"This discovery blazes the trail for future studies which should help reveal the nature of relativistic jets," he said. "[and help astronomers] to see whether these jets are extracting the black holes' rotational energy." ®

*A neutron star is a collapsed star that was not quite massive enough to become a black hole. It is typically as massive as our sun, but the size of a city. Its gravity is intense enough to have collapsed all its matter into neutrons, making it as dense as an atomic nucleus.

3 Big data security analytics techniques

More from The Register

next story
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
KILLER ROBOTS, DNA TAMPERING and PEEPING CYBORGS: the future looks bright!
Americans optimistic about technology despite being afraid of EVERYTHING
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
R.I.P. LADEE: Probe smashes into lunar surface at 3,600mph
Swan dive signs off successful science mission
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.