Sunday, July 1, 2012

6 Million Miles an Hour

Hey Space Placers!

I hope this finds our VA/DC/MD readers back on line with power, water and Internet.A lot of the area is still recovering.

Astronomers have found the potential record holder among pulsars for the fastest moving. Using three different telescopes, they found Pulsar  IGR J1104-6103 was moving away from its supernova remnant at 6 million miles an hour.

A pulsar is the remnant of a massive star that has used up all of it nuclear fuel and becomes a supernova - literally blasting itself to smithereens. In the aftermath of this explosion the core of the now dead star can only do one of two things - become a neutron star or a black hole. It all depends on how much mass is left within the core. 

A neutron star is the size of a city but contains several times the mass of our Sun and spins on its axis at a very high rate of speed. The star also puts out lines of radiation along intense magnetic fields and becomes a cosmic lighthouse. If these radiation beams align with Earth, we "see" the pulses with our radio telescopes and can measure how fast the pulsar is rotating.

In the image above the supernova remnant is the purple colors "cloud". This marks the shattered outer layers of the star that went supernova and is where new heavy elements - all elements above iron- were made in the billions of degrees temperature from the blast. 

The green area marks the high energy X-rays, including a point source, that is moving away from the supernova remnant. The only thing that could be a point source emitting X-rays (that we currently know of) is a pulsar. We have not detected the pulsations from this neutron star but it is a distant 30,000 light years away. So it may be indirect evidence that crowns this point source as a pulsar and the speediest one known.

Read More ABout It: and

Sky Guy in VA

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