The Pulsar that exceeds all expectations – PIEUVRE.CA

A pulsar that emits 20 times more energy than the most powerful pulsars discovered to date. That’s a lot considering that pulsars already belong to a select group of the most powerful energy sources in the cosmos.

A pulsar is a small “neutron star” with a disproportionately large mass for its size (we’re talking about 5 billion tons per teaspoon equivalent). Which spins at extremely high speeds (the pulsar we’re talking about spins around itself in 90 thousandths of a second). And that, accompanied by a very strong magnetic field. Such an object represents all that remains of a once larger star that collapsed after its fuel was exhausted. In the category of hypermassive and hyperdense objects, only black holes surpass pulsars.

We have discovered thousands of them, but only four that emit gamma rays powerful enough to be detected by our telescopes. And of those four, only one, called Vela, located 960 light-years from here, was able to observe that each photon that makes up its gamma rays exceeded 1 teraelectron volt (TeV). “Tera” means 1000 billion or the number 10 followed by 12 zeros. The world’s most powerful particle accelerator, the LHC on the French-Swiss border, has reached a record value of 13 TeV in recent years.

However, it seems that Vela is doing even better: gamma rays above 20 TeV were discovered by a team led by Arache Djannati-Ataï from the Paris Observatory based on data collected by a high-energy observatory in Namibia (High Energy Stereoscopic System). became ). The discovery was the subject of an Oct. 5 article in the journal Nature Astronomy. Not only is this 20 times more powerful than Vela was attributed to, it is also 200 times more powerful than the “average” pulsar.

This doesn’t just mean that astronomers need to rethink their pulsar model – because in theory, due to their rotation speed and the size of their magnetic field, they shouldn’t be able to “emit” or “eject” particles with such power. . So there is a mechanism in the background that may occur not only in pulsars, but in every very energetic source that populates the cosmos.

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