A magnetar is born

Scientists captured the birth of a magnetar for the first time

This is the result of a giant collision between two neutron stars.

Originally Published: 
NASA, ESA, and D. Player (STScI).

NASA, ESA and M. Kornmesser

On May 22, the Hubble Space Telescope detected a gamma ray burst that produced more energy in a half-second than the Sun will produce over its entire 10-billion-year lifetime.

Goddard Space Flight Center, NASA

Gamma ray bursts are high-energy explosions, the brightest and most energetic of all electromagnetic events that take place across the cosmos.

NASA, ESA, and D. Player (STScI)

This particular short gamma-ray burst came from two neutron stars merging, resulting in the birth of a magnetar. The findings were detailed in a study published in The Astrophysical Journal.

Magnetars are the most magnetic stars in the universe, a type of neutron star with an extremely powerful magnetic field. They are known to erupt without warning before their light dims and disappears.

NASA, ESA, and D. Player (STScI)

The light from the gamma ray-burst that reached Earth was the first time the birth of these elusive stars was observed.

Watch the two stars come together.

NASA, ESA, and D. Player (STScI)

These images show how scientists think the explosive collision went down.

NASA, ESA, and D. Player (STScI)
This is the glow of the magnetar...
NASA, ESA, W. Fong (Northwestern University), and T. Laskar (University of Bath, UK)

NASA, ESA, W. Fong (Northwestern), T. Laskar (UOB) and A. Pagan (STScI)

NASA, ESA, and D. Player (STScI)

Previously, scientists believed the only possible outcome of two neutron stars merging is that they form a heavy neutron star that collapses into a black hole. But this shows the heavy star has a chance of surviving.

“Now that we have one very bright candidate kilonova, I’m excited for the new surprises that short gamma-ray bursts and neutron star mergers have in store for us in the future.”

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