NASA captures magnetar activity that has never been seen before • Earth.com

NASA captures magnetar activity that has never been seen before

04-23-2022

Today’s Video of the Day from NASA Goddard features a fascinating observation of a new magnetar, SGR 1830, located in the constellation Scutum about 13,000 light years away. A magnetar is a type of neutron star that is believed to have an extremely powerful magnetic field.

“Compressing more mass than the Sun’s into a ball about 12 miles across, a neutron star is made of matter so dense that a teaspoonful would weigh as much as a mountain on Earth,” reports NASA.

“What sets magnetars apart is that they sport the strongest magnetic fields known, up to 10 trillion times more intense than a refrigerator magnet’s and a thousand times stronger than a typical neutron star’s. The magnetic field represents an enormous storehouse of energy that, when disturbed, can power an outburst of enhanced X-ray activity lasting from months to years.”

NASA’s Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) has observed the merging of multimillion-degree X-ray spots on the surface of SGR 1830. Three bright, hot spots slowly moved across the object’s surface while also decreasing in size. “The largest spot eventually coalesced with a smaller one, which is something astronomers haven’t seen before,” explains NASA.

The scientists believe there is a single active region where the crust of the magnetar has become partially molten, and is deforming under magnetic stress. “The three moving hot spots likely represent locations where coronal loops – similar to the bright, glowing arcs of plasma seen on the Sun – connect to the surface. The interplay between the loops and crustal motion drives the drifting and merging behavior.”

Video & Image Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

By Chrissy Sexton, Earth.com Staff Writer

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