Scientists simply uncovered essentially the most magnetic star within the universe. The star, often called HD 45166, has a singular, helium-rich spectral signature that hints at an uncommon origin.
And along with setting data, it’d symbolize the primary stage within the lifecycle of a magnetar — an odd sort of neutron star.
Neutron stars are the densest identified celestial objects within the universe, packing a solar’s price of mass right into a ball no wider than a metropolis. Their extremely magnetic variations — often called magnetars — have a few of the strongest identified magnetic fields within the universe. Neutron stars and magnetars kind within the wake of huge supernova explosions, when the leftover materials from a useless star condenses again into an especially dense, sizzling object.
However astronomers are nonetheless making an attempt to grasp what situations produce magnetars versus common neutron stars. The brand new examine, which was revealed in Science on Aug. 17, may make clear that course of.
Positioned 3,000 light-years from Earth within the constellation Monoceros (the Unicorn), HD 45166 has puzzled scientists for greater than a century. The star behaves equally to a kind of extraordinarily vivid stellar object often called a Wolf-Rayet star, besides that it’s smaller, dimmer and has an abnormally excessive focus of helium. Nevertheless, no person had put forth a passable speculation to account for its bizarre spectral signature — till now.
“I bear in mind having a Eureka second whereas studying the literature: ‘What if this star is magnetic?'” Tomer Shenar, an astronomer on the College of Amsterdam and co-author of the brand new examine, stated in a assertion.
Utilizing information from a number of floor observatories, Shenar and his workforce found that HD 45166 is extraordinarily magnetic — a record-smashing 43,000 instances extra magnetic than the solar. The researchers suspect that, in contrast to most huge helium stars, which evolve from purple supergiants, HD 45166 fashioned throughout a merger between two smaller stars. Additionally they consider that in a number of million years, it should explode right into a modest supernova and re-form as a magnetar.
“It is a very particular situation,” André-Nicolas Chené, an astronomer on the Nationwide Science Basis’s Nationwide Optical-Infrared Astronomy Analysis Laboratory and co-author of the examine, stated in an announcement. “It raises the query of what number of magnetars come from comparable techniques and what number of come from different sorts of techniques.”
Within the meantime, this proto-magnetar represents a brand new sort of stellar object by no means seen earlier than — a large magnetic helium star.