Scientists detect slowest-spinning radio emitting neutron star ever recorded | Science & Technology

Scientists have detected what they believe to be a neutron star spinning at an unprecedentedly slow rate — slower than any of the more than 3,000 radio emitting neutron stars measured to date.

Neutron stars — the ultra-dense remains of a dead star — typically rotate at mind-bendingly fast speeds, taking just seconds or even a fraction of a second to fully spin on their axis.

However, the neutron star, newly discovered by an international team of astronomers, defies this rule, emitting radio signals on a comparatively leisurely interval of 54 minutes.

The team was led by Dr Manisha Caleb at the University of Sydney and Dr Emil Lenc at CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency and includes scientists at The University of Manchester and the University of Oxford.

The results, published in the journal Nature Astronomy, offer new insights into the complex life cycles of stellar objects.

Ben Stappers, Professor of Astrophysics at The University of Manchester, said: “In the study of radio emitting neutron stars we are used to extremes, but this discovery of a compact star spinning so slowly and still emitting radio waves was unexpected. It is demonstrating that pushing the boundaries of our search space with this new generation of radio telescopes will reveal surprises that challenge our understanding.”

At the end of their life, large stars use up all their fuel and explode in a spectacular blast called a supernova. What remains is a stellar remnant called a neutron star, made up of trillions of neutrons packed into a ball so dense that its mass is 1.4 times that of the Sun is packed into a radius of just 10km.

The unexpected radio signal from the stellar object detected by the scientists travelled approximately 16,000 light years to Earth. The nature of the radio emission and the rate at which the spin period is changing suggest it is a neutron star. However, the researchers have not ruled out the possibility of it being an isolated white dwarf with an…


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