July 5, 2015

Astronomers Predict Fireworks from Rare Stellar Encounter

This is the longest-period binary system containing a radio pulsar. A pulsar, known as J2032. When astronomers started watching it, they had no idea how dynamic was. They still don't know what it's capable of. This pulsar has been accelerating for the last ten years, and it's still speeding up.

When it passes through the companion star's disk, we're gonna see some serious gamma-ray emission. The pulsar, known as J2032 is the crushed core of a massive star that exploded as a supernova.

It is a magnetized ball about 12 miles across, or about the size of Washington, weighing almost twice the sun's mass and spinning seven times a second.

The massive star tugging on the pulsar is named MT91 213. Classified as a Be star, the companion is 15 times the mass of the sun and shines 10,000 times brighter. Be stars drive strong outflows, called stellar winds, and are embedded in large disks of gas and dust.

Astronomers are expecting high-energy explosions when pulsar J2032 swings around its massive companion star in early 2018. The pulsar will plunge through a disk of gas and dust surrounding the star, triggering cosmic fireworks.

Astronomers think the supernova explosion that created the pulsar also kicked it into its eccentric orbit, nearly tearing the binary apart in the process.

A study of the system led by Lyne and including Ray and Stappers was published June 16 in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

 

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