Moving at an astounding one million metres per second, the wind created by what may well be the youngest pulsar in the universe has been captured by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and is helping astrophysicists better understand the phenomenon.
The wind, coloured blue in this composite image, is blasting from a pulsar known as Kes 75, located about 19,000 light-years from Earth. The pink and purple corona around it is the debris from the titanic explosion that erupted when the pulsar’s antecedent star ran out of fuel and went nova.
The Chandra Observatory has recorded images of Kes 75 between the years 2000 and 2016, allowing researchers to make precise estimates of its energy yield, its behaviour – and the point at which it came into being.
In a paper lodged on the preprint site arXiv, a team led by Stephan Reynolds of North Carolina State University, US, calculate that the pulsar burst into existence about 500 years ago.