A Neutron Star with a Wake

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 0 comments

Neutron stars are formed when large stars run out of fuel and collapse. When a star of more or less 1.5 solar mass collapses inwards by itself, it becomes a neutron star. If it has 5 times less solar mass it becomes a White Dwarf and if it has 5 times more solar mass it becomes a Blackhole. 

Not all supernova becomes a neutron star. But this article is about a recently discovered neutron star wit a tail like a comet. The supernova IC 443 became a neutron star after it collapsed.

An image of this neutron star moving through a nebula is shown. Its natural for a neutron star to move away from the remnant of its supernova but this one moves perpendicular. The supernova could have moved quickly through the galaxy before it exploded and the gas and dust in the nebula have slowed down and drifted away from the neutron star.

Based on the analysis of the wake of high energy particles, the neutron star known as J0617 is moving through a mutimillion gegree celsius gas in the remnant.

One possible explanation, as mentioned earlier that the collapsed progenitor star was moving at a high speed before it exploded, so that the explosion site was not at the observed center of the remnant. Fast-moving gusts of gas inside that supernova remnant may have further pushed the pulsar's wake out of alignment. Like the wind of particles from the sun pushes the comet tail away from the sun, out of alignment with the comet's motion.

This image was observed by the Chandra x-ray observatory and by its observations in the next 10 years should show a detectable motion aways from the center of the supernova remnant.


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