An explosion from an object with a magnetic field a thousand trillion times stronger than our sun


So far, we’ve only had close calls of gamma-ray bursts so large, scientists have suggested, that if they occurred within our solar neighborhood (less than 1,000 light-years away) they would likely trigger mass extinctions on Earth.

About 440 million years ago, reports natureA nearby gamma-ray burst may have wiped out much life on Earth. Astrophysicists Adrian Millott, of the University of Kansas, and colleagues hypothesize that the fossil record of the end of the Ordovician period fits with how such a cosmic explosion a few thousand light-years away could have altered the environment. At that time, more than 100 families of marine invertebrates had died. It was the second most destructive mass extinction in our planet’s history.

The universe is at the bottom of the sea

GRP Rocks Andromeda

In 2014, telescopes around the world pointed to our neighboring galaxy Andromeda (above) searching in all wavelengths of light to learn more about a gamma-ray burst reported by NASA’s Swift satellite that is believed to be an explosion caused by the collision of two neutron stars – the dead Massive star cores, with the mass of our sun smashed into the size of a small city.

Neutron star collision

When these neutron stars merge, the explosion is so powerful it can be seen from across the universe. Astronomers believe that up to a third of these brief gamma-ray bursts come from merging neutron stars into globular clusters of ancient stars, blinding entire galaxies with high-energy radiation and destroying nearby worlds.

“Blinding entire galaxies, destroying millions of worlds” – A rare short gamma-ray burst has been detected

Colliding neutron stars exploded in less than a second (while optical light can last for a few hours before fading) to sparkle in gamma rays that traveled unimpeded for 2.5 million years until they hit NASA’s Swift satellite, designed to solve the 35-year-old’s problem. An ancient mystery about the origin of gamma-ray bursts, which scientists believe are the birth cries of black holes. Within minutes telescopes all over the world were tracking him and an hour later people all over the world were following him on Twitter.

“Usually the universe moves slowly, massive galaxies spin in slow motion as measured by human standards, and then only occasionally something explodes and you race against time to record and learn everything you can.” Alan Duffy With Swinburne University’s Center for Astrophysics.

Giant GRB explosions create shock waves that travel at near the speed of light in the surrounding gas which then glow with X-ray, optical, and radio wavelengths. Since the shockwaves move at nearly the speed of light, Harvard Center for Astrophysics (CfA)Einstein’s special theory of relativity must be used to calculate what an observer will see.

The GRB appeared as a small ring expanding faster than the speed of light.

“Contrary to common sense,” says CfA, “a relativistic shock due to the microlensing of gravity predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity will appear to the observer as a tiny ring expanding faster than the speed of light.” The ring would appear small due to the GRB’s enormous distance – the equivalent of spotting a wedding ring two million miles away. Like seeing an ‘o’ on this page of the moon.”

Earthbound Telescopes. The CfA report, “It is limited to about 1 arcsecond by turbulence in our atmosphere. Better resolution is achieved in space, but the apparent size of the GRB shock is still more than 100,000 times smaller than the Hubble Space Telescope’s resolution of 0.1 arcsecond.”

“The night sky seen in high-energy light flashes continuously with gigantic explosions, bright enough to be seen from across the universe, rushing back and forth to us. It’s a violent world out there,” Daffy notes.

Much closer to home – an object with a magnetic field a thousand trillion times stronger than our Sun

Fast forward to 4:42 a.m. EDT on April 15, 2020 when a giant GRB flare swept across Mars, announcing itself to the satellites, spacecraft, and International Space Station orbiting our planet. It only lasted 140 milliseconds, about the blink of an eye.

A research team at the University of Johannesburg led by Soebur Razzaque, coordinator of the GRB and GW science group for the Fermi-Large Area Collaboration Telescope (LAT), revealed that this giant glow of GRB, 200415A, came from another possible source for a short time. The GRBs were also very close to home, cosmically speaking. It erupted from a rare and powerful neutron star called a magnetar, a type of young neutron star and the most magnetic object in the universe, with a gravity equivalent to a billion times that of Earth and a magnetic field a thousand trillion times stronger than that of our sun.

“Cosmic broadcasts” – blasts of energy from the strongest magnetic fields in the universe

The Consortium of Planets (IPN), a consortium of scientists, has discovered that GRB 200415A exploded from a magnetar in galaxy NGC 253 about 11.4 million light-years from Earth toward the constellation of the Sculptor. All previously known GRBs have been traced back to a supernova or two neutron stars colliding into each other. NGC 253 is located outside our home, the Milky Way, but it is only 11.4 million light-years away from us. This is relatively close when talking about the nuclear destructive power of a giant GRB flame.

The Milky Way hosts tens of thousands of neutron stars

Previously discovered GRBs came from a place relatively far from our own Milky Way. But this was much closer to home, cosmically speaking. “In the Milky Way, there are tens of thousands of neutron stars,” Razak says. Of these, only 30 are currently known to be magnetic.

Dark Hearts of the Cosmos – Dazzling new mergers of black holes and neutron stars

“Although gamma-ray bursts from a single star, we can detect them very early in the history of the universe. Even going back to a time when the universe was a few hundred million years old,” Razak says. “This is at a very early stage in the evolution of the universe. The stars that died at that time…we’re only detecting gamma-ray bursts now, because light takes time to travel. This means that gamma-ray bursts can tell us more about how the universe has expanded and evolved over time.” “.

source: A high-energy emission from a magnetic giant flare in the Sculptor Galaxy. Natural Astronomy (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41550-020-01287-8

daily galaxy, Maxwell MOAstrophysicist Fellow NASA EinsteinUniversity of Arizona, trans Swinburne University of TechnologyAnd the AAAS/University of JohannesburgAnd the Harvard CfA

Image credit: Magnetar, Shutterstock license

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