Feeds

Little bear harbouring isolated neutron star

Weirdo stellar remnant spotted

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

A group of American and Canadian astronomers have spotted what appears to be an isolated neutron star relatively near to Earth, the BBC reports.

It is very rare for neutron stars to be found in singles: usually they have a companion supernova remnant for company. If it is confirmed, it will be only the eighth known lone neutron star ever found. As well as being odd because it is on its own, the star doesn't seem to be emitting any radio pulses, traditionally associated with neutron stars.

A neutron star is what is left after a massive star goes supernova. After the explosion throws off the star's outer layers, the remaining material continues to burn until the iron in the star's core ignites. Then it collapses under its own gravity, fusing protons and electrons to form neutrons. The remaining object may be no bigger than the average earth city, but will have a mass of roughly one and a half times that of our sun and a blazing internal temperature in the region of 100 million Kelvin.

The star, nicknamed Calvera, was first identified by Robert Rutledge of McGill University in Montreal, on a trawl through data from the German American Rosat satellite. He noticed an X-ray source that appeared in the Rosat data, and when he looked for it in other catalogues, he noticed there were no listings for the star in other wavelengths.

This prompted him to seek time on NASA's Swift satellite to pinpoint the location of the source. After that, follow up observations were made with the 8.1 metre Gemini North Telescope in Hawaii and NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.

The observations confirmed that the X-ray signal was not already associated with a known object. But it also left several puzzles for astronomers: how did the neutron star come to be where it is (high above the plane of our galaxy in the constellation Ursa Minor)? Why is it on its own? Why is there no visible signal associated with the star?

Professor Rutledge told the BBC: "Either Calvera is an unusual example of a known type of neutron star, or it is some new type of neutron star, the first of its kind." ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
GRAV WAVE DRAMA: 'Big Bang echo' may have been grit on the scanner – boffins
Exit Planet Dust on faster-than-light expansion of universe
SpaceX Dragon cargo truck flies 3D printer to ISS: Clawdown in 3, 2...
Craft berths at space station with supplies, experiments, toys
That glass of water you just drank? It was OLDER than the SUN
One MEELLION years older. Some of it anyway
Big dinosaur wowed females with its ENORMOUS HOOTER
That's right, Doris, I've got biggest snout in the prehistoric world
Japanese volcano eruption reportedly leaves 31 people presumed dead
Hopes fade of finding survivors on Mount Ontake
Relive the death of Earth over and over again in Extinction Game
Apocalypse now, and tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
Beginner's guide to SSL certificates
De-mystify the technology involved and give you the information you need to make the best decision when considering your online security options.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.