What is Magnetar?

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Scientists have now detected the most distant-known instance of eruptions, called a giant flare, from a magnetar residing in a galaxy called Messier 82.

About Magnetar: 

  • It is an exotic type of neutron star, its defining feature is 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 Messier 82?

  • It is a galaxy nicknamed as "cigar galaxy" because when viewed edge-on it has an elongated and cigar-like shape, is 12 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Ursa Major.
  • The M82 giant flare was the most distant known but not the most energetic. 

A giant flare originates from a reconfiguration and a reconnection of the magnetic field of the magnetar.

Q1: What is a Neutron Star?

It is an extremely dense and compact celestial object that forms when a massive star runs out of fuel and collapses under its own gravity.

Source: Huge energetic flare from magnetic neutron star detected