Credit: NSF; NASA
Shaking the Fields
A strange, tiny, dead star lit up the sky on December 27, 2004. The flash came from across the Galaxy, in deep space, and, for a tenth of a second, outshone all the other stars in the sky. The object, a so-called "Soft Gamma-Ray Repeater", is a neutron star with an extremely strong magnetic field. Such stars are called magnetars, and astronomers know only about a handful of them. The burst was believed to have been produced by a tremor in the superstrong magnetic field, of a type that actually
happens on our Sun, but on a vastly larger scale. The image above is a still from a movie showing how the burst happened and how the flash was detected by the Swift spacecraft and by the radio telescopes of the Very Large Array.
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Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Friday, 20-Apr-2012 15:28:21 EDT