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Mon Nov 11, 2019, 12:27 AM

NASA instrument spots its brightest X-ray burst from a peculiar pulsar

By Michael Irving
November 07, 2019

On August 20, an X-ray instrument onboard the International Space Station (ISS) captured the brightest X-ray burst it has ever seen. The explosion came from a pulsar thousands of light-years away, releasing as much energy in 20 seconds as the Sun does in 10 days. Now a NASA team has outlined what they believe caused it.

A pulsar is a type of neutron star, left behind after a more massive star sheds most of its material in a dramatic supernova. The remaining core is still active, particularly at its poles where it blasts X-rays in focused beams. Because these objects spin so fast, some of their beams happen to sweep over Earth periodically, creating regular X-ray pulses that gives pulsars their name.

In this case, the burst came from a pulsar called SAX J1808.4-3658 (or just J1808). It’s about 11,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Sagittarius, and spins 401 times per second. But the signal detected was no regular pulse – it was the brightest ever spotted by NASA’s Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) telescope, and showed some other strange features.

The burst started off strong, paused for about a second, before flaring up even brighter for another two seconds until it hit its peak. After holding there for a few seconds, the flare fades. On it way back down though, it briefly brightens again by about 20 percent, before gradually fading out over the next 40 seconds or so.


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Reply NASA instrument spots its brightest X-ray burst from a peculiar pulsar (Original post)
Judi Lynn Nov 11 OP
SonofDonald Nov 11 #1

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon Nov 11, 2019, 01:09 AM

1. Not a happy story

Isn't a Pulsar the deadliest nastiest thing there is?

That's what I remember reading way back, hadn't even thought of them for a long time.

Death Star

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