XMM Newton image of SNR RCW103
Credit:A. De Luca et al.; ESA


One of the fundamental goals of science is the discovery of new unexpected objects or phenomena which advance the understanding of the Universe, often by raising more questions than first providing answers. A group of Italian astronomers recently achieved this goal with a new observation of a supernova remnant by the XMM-Newton X-ray observatory. The observation (shown above) revealed an unusual bright source at the center of the remnant. What makes the source unusual is that it is varying periodically, but very slowly. The source could either be a low-mass X-ray binary in an eccentric orbit, or an isolated peculiar neutron star called a magnetar. The long (about 6.67 hours) period variation suggests that, if it is a magnetar, it must have been slowed down, perhaps by a debris disk from the supernova explosion.

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Each week the HEASARC brings you new, exciting and beautiful images from X-ray and Gamma ray astronomy. Check back each week and be sure to check out the HEAPOW archive!

Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:20:51 EDT