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Scientists discover first hint to understanding transient high energy pulses from magnetars

Scientists discover first hint to understanding transient high energy pulses from magnetars

Scientists have discovered the first hints to understanding powerful short-duration flares from a 13 million light-year magnetar compact star. Due to their unexpected nature and brief duration, these compact stars with the most powerful magnetic field known experience explosive outbursts.

The Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM) spotted the eruption on the International Space Station. The flare’s volume was estimated to be comparable or greater than the neutron star’s. Astronomers on the International Space Station have discovered unusual massive magnetar flares.

Key Highlight:

  • Scientists discover the first hint to understanding transient high energy pulses from magnetars.
  • Magnetars can erupt because of instabilities in their magnetosphere or “earthquakes” (“starquakes”) caused in their crust, a kilometer thick stiff and elastic layer.
  • Extragalactic magnetars are rare.
  • The energy emitted is equivalent to our Sun’s energy in 100,000 years.
  • Multiple pulses were observed, with the first emerging in tens of microseconds.
  • The Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM) spotted the eruption on the International Space Station.
  • The oscillations found in the eruption are compatible with emission from Alfvén waves interacting with the crust.
  • Constant monitoring of magnetars in adjacent galaxies would assist in comprehending this event and rapid radio bursts, which are currently one of the most puzzling occurrences in astronomy, said co-author Dr. Shashi Bhushan Pandey.

Scientists have found the first clues to help them understand violent short-term flares from a magnetar star that is thirteen million light-years away. These small stars, which have the most powerful magnetic field, have violent eruptions that aren’t very well known because they happen quickly and aren’t very big. Only 30 of these stars have been found in our galaxy so far. It has been a long time since scientists have been interested in these short and intense bursts of X-rays that have energy several times that of the Sun and last for a few milliseconds to a few microseconds.

When massive stars like supergiant stars with a total mass of between 10 and 25 solar masses fall apart, they may form neutron stars with very little mass. Magnetars are a small group of neutron stars with the most powerful magnetic field ever seen. They have violent eruptions that aren’t very well known because they happen so quickly and for only a few hundredths of a second. Only 30 of them have been found so far.

A group of scientists led by Prof. Alberto J.Castro-Tirado from the Andalusian Institute of Astrophysics (IAA-CSIC) studied an eruption in great detail. They could measure different oscillations or pulses when the energy was highest. This is important because it helps us understand how giant magnetar flares work. It was a project led by Dr. Shashi Bhushan Pandey from the Aryabhatta Research Institute of Observational Sciences (ARIES), part of the Department of Science and Technology, and Prof. Alberto Castro Tirado and other members of his group. This research has been written up and is in the journal Nature. We’ve looked into how this extragalactic magnetar works for the first time.

They can be many, many times brighter than our Sun even when they aren’t working.” As for GRB2001415, which took place on April 15, 2020, and lasted only about one-tenth of a second, the energy released is the same as what our Sun emits in one hundred thousand (100,000) years. The observations showed that there were multiple pulses. The first pulse came about tens of microseconds after the other pulses, much faster than for other extreme astrophysical transients.

This might be because their magnetospheres aren’t as stable as they should be or because there are “earthquakes” (called “starquakes”) that happen in their crust, which is a rigid and elastic layer about a kilometer thick. “No matter what, waves will be made in the magnetic field of the star.” In the Sun, these waves are called Alfvén waves. As they bounce back and forth between the points at the base of its magnetic field lines, they interact with each other, causing energy to be lost.

The oscillations found in the eruption are consistent with the emission that comes from the interaction of Alfvén waves with the Earth’s crust. In a few milliseconds, the magnetic reconnection process ended, and so did the pulses found in GRB200415, which disappeared 3.5 milliseconds after the main burst. As a result of studying the phenomenon, we can figure out how big it was. It could even be more significant than the neutron star itself, a type of star.

ASIM, an instrument on the International Space Station, was able to see the volcano erupting. Over a year, the scientific team figured out how the event happened in time. They looked at minimal amounts of data for that long. “Even though there have been a lot of papers written about this event, ASIM was the only mission that was able to see the main burst phase in all of the energy ranges of photons without saturating,” says Nikolai stgaard from the University of Bergen in Norway, the second author of the paper.

“Detecting the oscillations in GRB 200415 has been difficult because the signal is so short. The signal’s amplitude quickly drops and is buried in the background noise.” We, therefore, owe this success to sophisticated data analysis techniques that have been used by each member of the team on their own. But it’s also a technological achievement because the data from the ASIM instrument on the International Space Station are outstanding, says Javier Pascual, an IAA-CSIC researcher who was part of the work on the project.

In Michael Gabler’s words: “Understanding these oscillations can help us understand the structure of these unknown things” (University of Valencia, Spain).

These flares had been found in two of the 30 known magnetars in our galaxy, the Milky Way. They had also been found in two other magnetars in other galaxies. In the Sculptor group of galaxies (NGC 253), the GRB2001415 would be the most far-away magnetar eruption ever seen. It would be 13 million light-years away, in the Sculptor group.

“Findings of huge flares from magnetars are very, very rare.” This eruption has helped us understand how magnetic stresses are made in and around a neutron star, says Castro-Tirado. In this article, Dr. Shashi Bhushan Pandey, one of the co-authors, says that keeping an eye on magnetars in other nearby galaxies will help us better understand this phenomenon, and it will also help us learn more about fast radio bursts.

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