According to a new study, observations and stellar evolution models of a hot, helium-rich Wolf-Rayet star indicate that it will produce a magnetar when it explodes as a supernova.
- A magnetar is an exotic type of neutron star, its defining feature that it has an ultra-powerful magnetic field.
- The field is about 1,000 times stronger than a normal neutron star and about a trillion times stronger than the Earth’s.
- Apart from ultra-powerful magnetic fields, magnetars also release vast amounts of energy in the form of flares, X-rays, and gamma-ray bursts.
- They are therefore associated with extreme events in the universe, making them perhaps the most bizarre objects in the cosmos next to black holes.
- The magnetic field of a magnetar may be caused by a neutron star’s interior – thought to be made up of neutrons, quarks and exotic states of matter such as Bose-Einstein Condensates – becoming a superconducting fluid.
- Thus, when the star rotates, it would behave like a huge dynamo, generating an immense magnetic field.
What is a Supernova?
- A supernova is the name given to the cataclysmic explosion of a massive star.
- They are the largest explosion that takes place in space.
- A star can go supernova in one of two ways:
- Type I supernova: Star accumulates matter from a nearby neighbour until a runaway nuclear reaction ignites.
- Type II supernova: Star runs out of nuclear fuel and collapses under its own gravity.
- It can emit more energy in a few seconds than our sun will radiate in its lifetime of billions of years.
- They're also the primary source of heavy elements in the universe.
- On average, a supernova will occur once every 50 years in a galaxy the size of the Milky Way.
What are Wolf-Rayet stars?
- These are massive stars that are near the end of their stellar evolution.
- They are typically more than 25 times the mass the Sun and lose this mass at a very high rate.
- They are a rare sight and are among the most luminous, most massive, and most briefly-detectable stars known to scientists.
Q1) What is a neutron star?
A neutron star is an extremely dense and compact celestial object that forms after the core of a massive star collapses under its own gravity during a supernova explosion. Neutron stars are fascinating and unique due to their extreme physical properties.