Magnetar Neutron Star Explodes
In November of 2021, NASA reported that a “super magnetized stellar remnant” known as magnetar “SGR 1935”, an isolated neutron star located over 30,000 light years from earth and many solar masses larger than our sun, released more energy than one-billion suns in a fraction of a second.
According to Scientific American and other NASA astronomical scientists, this is more energy than our sun will release in 100,000 years.
Neutron stars are what astronomers call “ancient remnants” of once supermassive stars that have died (lost their spark) and have exploded in what is called a supernova. The core’s of these once supermassive star’s are then compressed into a dense city sized object, creating a powerful magnetic field with the same mass as our sun (but can be far greater).
The magnetised field of a neutron star like this can be 10 trillion times – yes that’s with a “t” – more powerful than your typical refrigerator magnet and can be one thousand times more stronger than a normal neutron star. This release of energy, which astronomers call a fast radio burst or FRB, was more powerful than any previously seen neutron star explosion in our galaxy, according to NASA.
The magnetar SGR 1935 blast was also observed by the European Space Agency’s INTEGRAL mission, the Russian Konus instrument on Wind and the China National Space Administration’s Huiyan X-ray satellite, says NASA.
Similar Magnetar Star Events
Magnetar neutron stars were initially theorised in the 1930’s but evidence of their existence was only stumbled across in 1967 by a graduate student from the University of Cambridge in England named Jocelyn Bell, after discovering the first radio pulsars using her radio telescope.
She initially believed the radio signals were alien in nature.
Since then fast radio bursts (FRB) were discovered in 2007, putting astronomers in a difficult position, as these types of stellar events typically occur outside of the milky way making them difficult to predict. This is also true due to their apparent rarity. According to Science Alert, just a few dozen of these FRB events have been observed since.
But what makes magnetar SGR 1935 special is that it is within our galaxy and has experienced multiple FRB events (generally, only one FRB is observed coming from a single stellar remnant).
It was only back in 2016 when these so called “repeaters” were initially observed, with only a handful being discovered since.