Feeds

Little bear harbouring isolated neutron star

Weirdo stellar remnant spotted

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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." ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Gigantic toothless 'DRAGONS' dominated Earth's early skies
Gummy pterosaurs outlived toothy competitors
Vulture 2 takes a battering in 100km/h test run
Still in one piece, but we're going to need MORE POWER
TRIANGULAR orbits will help Rosetta to get up close with Comet 67P
Probe will be just 10km from Space Duck in October
Boffins ID freakish spine-smothered prehistoric critter: The CLAW gave it away
Bizarre-looking creature actually related to velvet worms
CRR-CRRRK, beep, beep: Mars space truck backs out of slippery sand trap
Curiosity finds new drilling target after course correction
'Leccy racer whacks petrols in Oz race
ELMOFO rakes in two wins in sanctioned race
What does a flashmob of 1,024 robots look like? Just like this
Sorry, Harvard, did you say kilobots or KILLER BOTS?
NASA's rock'n'roll shock: ROLLING STONE FOUND ON MARS
No sign of Ziggy Stardust and his band
Why your mum was WRONG about whiffy tattooed people
They're a future source of RENEWABLE ENERGY
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.