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