Researchers detected a glitch in the radio pulsar PSR J0908−4913 by using the Molonglo Observatory Synthesis Telescope (MOST). The scientists hope the results could reveal more about the properties and nature of this spinning star.
Pulsars are highly-magnetised, rotating neutron stars spewing beams of electromagnetic radiation from its magnetic poles.
We report the first detection of a glitch in the radio pulsar PSR J0908−4913
This radiation can be observed only when a beam of emission is pointing toward Earth and is responsible for them resembling “blinking” stars.
Pulsars are normally spotted by the emission of short bursts of radio waves.
Glitches such as the recent discovery are sudden changes of the pulsar’s spin rate.
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However, the exact cause of glitches remains a mystery, although the change is considered to be caused by an internal process within the pulsar.
Scientific consensus currently believes glitches can be caused from either a transfer of angular momentum from the core to the crust via the unpinning of superfluid vortices or violent fissures in the star’s crust.
Understanding the phenomena is considered critical to improving scientistic understanding of their origin and the nature of pulsars in general.
Astronomers led by Dr Marcus Lower of Australia’s Swinburne University of Technology has announced the discovery of a glitch in PSR J0908−4913.
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This is a bright pulsar with an almost unimaginably fast spin period of 107 milliseconds.
Dr Lower’s team spotted the glitch during regular timing observations with MOST under the UTMOST project, monitoring pulsars and magnetars, and searching for fast radio bursts in real-time.
The astronomers wrote: ”We report the first detection of a glitch in the radio pulsar PSR J0908−4913 (PSR B0906−49) during regular timing observations by the Molonglo Observatory Synthesis Telescope (MOST) as part of the UTMOST project.”
According to the study, the glitch reportedly took place on October 9, last year.
“Attempts to measure any long-term recovery and pulse shape changes will be the subject of future works.”
It is hoped the results could reveal more about the properties and nature of this pulsar
Pulsars are normally spotted by the emission of short bursts of radio waves
What is a pulsar?
When stars like the Sun run out of nuclear fuel, fusion stops, gravity takes over and the stars’ cores collapse to form white dwarf stars.
But when much more massive stars burn out, gravity is strong enough to crush core material beyond white dwarf densities.
The forces are so powerful they can produce neutron stars only a few miles wide.
Spinning neutron stars are known as pulsars because of the resulting polar jets spewing into space.
The news of the glitch arrives only a month after an X-ray telescope aboard the International Space Station (ISS) provided the first accurate measurements of a neutrons star’s size and mass.
And after exploiting how concentrated gravity of massive stellar remnants can bend light, NASA researchers have managed to peer beyond the target’s visible face to track the movement of million-degree hot spots across its surface.
Dr Hertz said: “From its perch on the space station, NICER is revolutionising our understanding of pulsars.
“Pulsars were discovered more than 50 years ago as beacons of stars that have collapsed into dense cores, behaving unlike anything we see on Earth.
With NICER we can probe the nature of these dense remnants in ways that seemed impossible until now.”