NOV 13, 2015 2:50 PM PST

NASA Observes Gamma Ray Pulsar From Another Galaxy for the First Time

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

The word pulsar is short for pulsating radio star, and it’s a phenomenon that occurs in space when a neutron star shows off its magnetized qualities by emitting radioactive gamma light rays. The neutron star is spinning very quickly, and as a result, those magnetic poles, which are emitting the gamma rays, are rotating with it. This is what creates the ‘pulsing’ effect as observed from Earth, and hence the name.
 
Scientists have now, for the first time, observed a gamma ray-emitting pulsar from another galaxy besides our own with its Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope.

Typically, we observe pulsars in our own galaxy, where they are most common; but one pulsar called PSR J0540-6919 has been observed inside of the Tarantula Nebula, which is located inside of a smaller galaxy outside of our own Milky Way galaxy. NASA notes that the pulsar is approximately 163,000 light years away from Earth.
 


The gamma rays being observed from PSR J0540-6919 are intensely bright; about 20 times brighter than the pulsar known to exist in the Crab Nebula. Interestingly, the amount of radio, X-Ray, and optical emission. It’s a relatively young pulsar, which scientists are aging at about 1,700 years old. This is very young in contrast to most pulsars, which are typically anywhere from 10,000 years old up to the millions of years old range.
 
"The gamma-ray pulses from J0540 have 20 times the intensity of the previous record-holder, the pulsar in the famous Crab Nebula, yet they have roughly similar levels of radio, optical and X-ray emission," said coauthor Lucas Guillemot, at the Laboratory for Physics and Chemistry of Environment and Space, operated by CNRS and the University of Orléans in France. "Accounting for these differences will guide us to a better understanding of the extreme physics at work in young pulsars."
 
Because PSR J0540-6919 is brighter than the pulsar from the Crab Nebula, which once held the record as the brightest known gamma ray-emitting pulsar around, PSR J0540-6919 is now being crowned the brightest gamma ray-emitting pulsar ever discovered.
 
NASA notes in a statement that the data observed from PSR J0540-6919 has been slowly accumulated over six years of research, and that the long stretch of time was necessary to ensure all calculations were correct and to get a clearer image of of the pulsar as the space telescope was able to capture more and more data.
 

 
With the data accumulated, scientists are hoping to learn more about how Pulsars work, and perhaps discover some more of them in further away galaxies as space telescopes continue to evolve in power and capability.

Source: NASA

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 03, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 03, 2019
Wanna Venture Outside of the Solar System? Try a "Skyhook"
Rocket engines are expensive to build, and their speed and the distance of travel are also limited by their own weight and the fuel they carry. But there&#...
DEC 19, 2019
Chemistry & Physics
DEC 19, 2019
The Science Behind Christmas
The holiday season is upon us, and to wrap-up the year and get you into the holiday spirit, we are dedicating the last infographic to Christmas. After all, what's a better way to celebrate...
DEC 22, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 22, 2019
How Astronomers Measure Distances to Stars
Extra stellar systems are so far away from our own that we couldn’t even hope of developing a tape measure long enough to determine how far away they...
DEC 23, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 23, 2019
The Trouble With the InSight Mission's Burrowing Mole Explained
NASA’s InSight mission is designed to probe the red planet’s internal physical characteristics, including heat emanating from its core and Mars...
MAR 15, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 15, 2020
ExoMars Rover Launch Delayed Until 2022
2020 was expected to play host to a plethora of Martian missions, including the United States’ Mars 2020 rover, which was recently renamed to the Per...
MAR 16, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 16, 2020
What Would it Take to Visit Alpha Centauri?
Humankind has long pondered upon the ambition of becoming a multiplanetary species. While much of our realistic focus resides right here in our own solar s...
Loading Comments...