NICER / ISS Science Nugget
for March 5, 2020

NICER results on PSR J0030+0451 prompt further studies

NICER's first results on the pulsar PSR J0030+0451 (J0030, for short), released in December 2019, have triggered additional research leading to new publications in fields ranging from the "equation of state" of ultra-dense matter within neutron stars, to the complexity of their magnetic fields.

A paper by Chen et al. recently submitted for publication in Astrophysical Journal Letters used NICER's results for the hot-spot distribution on the surface of J0030 to precisely model the star's magnetic field structure in a way that previously was not possible (see figure).

A 3D model of the magnetosphere of PSR J0030+0451

Figure: A 3D-rendered model, from Chen et al., of pulsar J0030's magnetosphere based on the locations, sizes, and shapes of surface hot-spots derived from analysis of NICER data. Green and cyan lines are closed and open magnetic-field lines, respectively. The red-green volume rendering shows the 3D electric current sheet.

The progress that NICER is enabling toward answering decades-old questions about neutron stars prompted a feature story in this week's issue of Nature magazine, titled "The golden age of neutron-star physics has arrived".

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