Astronomers Have Discovered the Strongest Magnetic Field Ever in the Universe


The strongest magnetic field known to exist has been directly measured by a team of astronomers using the Chinese Insight-HXMT x-ray telescope. The magnetic field originates from a magnetar that is currently consuming a circling partner. Magnetars are evil, but they are luckily uncommon. They are a unique class of neutron star that generates the greatest magnetic fields yet recorded.

Although astronomers are unsure of the precise origins of these extraordinarily potent fields, they do have some theories. Although neutron stars are almost exclusively composed of neutrons, they do have trace amounts of protons and electrons. These charged particles have the ability to momentarily produce a powerful magnetic field when neutron stars are created in supernova explosions of huge stars. The intricate physics taking place during the explosion swiftly causes the magnetic field in most neutron stars to melt away. However, for some neutron stars, the magnetic field stabilises first. A magnetar is created when the neutron star eventually manifests itself and maintains its remarkable magnetic strength.

However, astronomers must often settle for indirect measurements of the magnetar magnetic field strengths. Fortunately, astronomers occasionally strike it lucky.

Recently, a group of astronomers studied the ultraluminous pulsar J0243.6+6124 in the Milky Way using the brand-new Chinese Insight-HXMT telescope. A partner in orbit around this pulsar strayed too close. The companion is currently being torn apart by the pulsar's intense gravity, which is driving its components into a tiny accretion disc around the pulsar.

The gas in the accretion disc occasionally flares, creating a burst of extraordinarily brilliant x-rays. The researchers discovered an absorption line in the spectrum of those x-rays that was brought on by electrons scattering x-rays. The scientists were able to directly estimate the magnetic field strengths through that observation since such electrons can only obtain that level of energy if they are propelled by a magnetic field.

They calculated a magnetic field strength of 1.6 billion tesla, or nearly a million billion times more powerful than the magnetic field of the Earth.

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