Neutron star found at supernova’s heart
Astronomers name a compact body in the middle of a huge explosion. Andrew Masterson reports.
Astronomers have identified an isolated neutron star inside a supernova remnant – the first time such an object has been defined outside the Milky Way.
In a paper published in the journal Nature Astronomy, a team led by Frédéric Vogt of the European Southern Observatory in Chile reports on the structure of a young supernova remnant dubbed 1E 0102.2–7219.
Supernova remnants observed within a few thousand years of their formative explosion throw off oxygen-rich and hydrogen-poor filaments, blasted out from the interior of the original star. Moving at several thousand kilometres per second, the filaments are visible at optical wavelengths.
At the centre of the complex sits a bright, compact object. Vogt and colleagues decided to find out the exact nature of the one visible at the heart of 1E 0102.2–7219.
Using reprocessed images originally gathered by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, the researchers calculated the object’s intrinsic luminosity, among other measurements.
“The energy distribution of the source indicates that this object is an isolated neutron star,” they conclude.