Feeds

Little bear harbouring isolated neutron star

Weirdo stellar remnant spotted

The Power of One Infographic

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." ®

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 claimed lives of HIV/AIDS cure scientists
Researchers, advocates, health workers among those on shot-down plane
Forty-five years ago: FOOTPRINTS FOUND ON MOON
NASA won't be back any time soon, sadly
The Sun took a day off last week and made NO sunspots
Someone needs to get that lazy star cooking again before things get cold around here
Mwa-ha-ha-ha! Eccentric billionaire Musk gets his PRIVATE SPACEPORT
In the Lone Star State, perhaps appropriately enough
MARS NEEDS OCEANS to support life - and so do exoplanets
Just being in the Goldilocks zone doesn't mean there'll be anyone to eat the porridge
Diary note: Pluto's close-up is a year from … now!
New Horizons is less than a year from the dwarf planet
Boffins discuss AI space program at hush-hush IARPA confab
IBM, MIT, plenty of others invited to fill Uncle Sam's spy toolchest, but where's Google?
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.