Astronomers Detect Uncommon Radio Pulses from Nearby Magnetar

Astronomers using CSIRO’s Parkes radio telescope (Murriyang) have detected peculiar radio indicators from XTE J1810-197, a radio magnetar (ultra-magnetic neutron superstar) positioned 8,100 light-years away in the constellation of Sagittarius.

An artist’s influence of the radio magnetar XTE J1810-197. Image credit: Carl Knox, OzGrav / Swinburne University of Abilities.

An artist’s influence of the radio magnetar XTE J1810-197. Image credit: Carl Knox, OzGrav / Swinburne University of Abilities.

Magnetars are a form of neutron superstar and the strongest magnets in the Universe.

Most are known to emit polarised light, though the sunshine this magnetar is emitting is circularly polarized, the set the sunshine appears to be like to spiral as it moves thru role.

“The results are unexpected and completely unprecedented,” acknowledged Dr. Marcus Lower, an astronomer at CSIRO.

“In incompatibility to the radio indicators we’ve seen from assorted magnetars, this one is emitting immense quantities of fleet changing round polarization. We had never seen anything else adore this forward of.”

“Finding out magnetars affords insights into the physics of intense magnetic fields and the environments these form,” acknowledged Dr. Manisha Caleb, an astronomer at the University of Sydney.

“The indicators emitted from this magnetar point out that interactions at the floor of the superstar are extra complex than old theoretical explanations.”

XTE J1810-197 is one amongst handiest a handful known to form radio pulses.

Whereas it’s not sure why this magnetar is behaving so otherwise, the look authors have an idea.

“Our results suggest there would possibly per chance be a superheated plasma above the magnetar’s magnetic pole, which is acting adore a polarising filter,” Dr. Lower acknowledged.

“How precisely the plasma is doing here is aloof to make certain.”

XTE J1810-197 became first seen to emit radio indicators in 2003. Then it went soundless for well over a decade.

The indicators were again detected by the University of Manchester’s 76-m Lovell telescope at the Jodrell Monetary institution Observatory in 2018 and speedily followed up by Murriyang, which has been wanted to staring at the magnetar’s radio emissions ever since.

The 64-m diameter telescope on Wiradjuri Country is geared up with a reducing edge ultra-wide bandwidth receiver.

The receiver became designed by CSIRO engineers who’re world leaders in rising applied sciences for radio astronomy capabilities.

The receiver permits for extra staunch measurements of celestial objects, particularly magnetars, as it is a ways extremely light to changes in brightness and polarisation across a gigantic fluctuate of radio frequencies.

“Reviews of magnetars corresponding to those present insights into a fluctuate of outrageous and peculiar phenomena, corresponding to plasma dynamics, bursts of X-rays and gamma-rays, and doubtlessly fleet radio bursts,” the astronomers acknowledged.

The look became published in the journal Nature Astronomy.


M.E. Lower et al. Linear to round conversion in the polarized radio emission of a magnetar. Nat Astron, published online April 8, 2024; doi: 10.1038/s41550-024-02225-8