Strange signals happen often in space and another one has recently appeared. What makes it interesting is the fact that for the first time, a neutron star emitted an infrared signal. Researchers are now trying to find out what may have caused the bizarre event.
As a star reaches the end if its life cycle, it will enter a supernova state, culminating in a powerful explosion. After the star collapses, if it has enough mass, it may become a black hole but if it is too light, it will transform into a neutron star.
Neutron stars are very dense agglomerations formed by neutrons. If the neutron star reaches a high velocity during its rotation and it also has a powerful magnetic field around it, it may produce electromagnetic pulses, becoming what is commonly called a pulsar.
Most pulsars emit radio waves or X-ray radiation. But an international team of researchers from US and Turkey have discovered a large infrared signal emitted in the close proximity of a neutron star. Coming from 800 light-years away, the powerful signal also stretches along a large segment of space, another distinctive feature for the signal.
While extended signals have been found before, they were not infrared. The amount of infrared radiation emitted by the star is also more intense than it should be. This led scientists to theorize upon other possible sources of radiation.
One of them could be a fallback disk. Formed from the remains of a star that goes supernova, the disk could send infrared pulses, and it would also explain why the star spins slower than other neutron stars. The disk could also be responsible for its increased temperature.
The second theory argues that the radiation may be caused by a pulsar wind nebula. The phenomenon occurs when the electrons that surround a neutron star are accelerated by a powerful electric field generated by the stars rotation and magnetic field. As the star is traveling through space, interaction between the space and the pulsar wind can produce the nebula, which may release infrared radiation.
As our second lead editor, Anna C. Mackinno provides guidance on the stories Great Lakes Ledger reporters cover. She has been instrumental in making sure the content on the site is clear and accurate for our readers. If you see a particularly clever title, you can likely thank Anna. Anna received a BA and and MA from Fordham University.