The neutron star astronomers have been searching for 34 years
One of the most studied objects in the Universe is supernova 1987A. As its name suggests, it was discovered in 1987 and is particularly interesting because it is the first supernova that we can see with the naked eye. Since it was discovered, astronomers have tried to find the neutron star left behind after the explosion. 34 years later, a group of scientists claims to have found it.
A group of astronomers in collaboration with NASA claims to have finally found the neutron star, hidden inside the supernova. For years they have studied data from special missions and ground-based telescopes to find it. Although they cannot see it directly, there is data that indicates where it is.
The supernova 1987A is located in the Large Magellanic Cloud, which is a galaxy smaller than the Milky Way about 170,000 light years from Earth. As the supernova is easier to see due to its proximity, many astronomers have pointed their telescopes at it to better study it and understand its peculiarities. But most of all, what they have been looking for is the neutron star that is supposed to accompany it.
In search of the neutron star
When a star explodes, it is the gigantic explosion that creates the huge, colorful supernovae. This explosion at the same time makes the star implode on itself causing the core to compress into an extremely dense object. So dense that there are practically only neutrons inside this object, hence it is called a neutron star. Its density is enormous, in a diameter of just kilometers it compresses the mass of an entire star. One cubic centimeter of a neutron star has the weight of billions of tons.
Due to their enormous mass and activity, neutron stars can begin to spin at a hellish speed. Is when become pulsars, producing beams of radiation that are easy to detect from Earth with radio telescopes. It is what astronomers say they have detected, low-energy X-rays emanating from the supernova along with evidence of high-energy particles.
The theory says that this energetic X-ray emission is due to the existence of a pulsar inside the supernova. This confirms and agrees with other data collected throughout the year by various observatories. Supernova 1987A has been hiding inside a neutron star that, now, we can finally prove its existence.
If all this is true, it would be the youngest pulsar ever found. It provides astronomers with a unique opportunity to study the origin and development of pulsars, having detected it practically from birth (as when it was observed the birth of a magnetar). Now, more data and time are needed to confirm that the theory is true. If the high-energy X-rays decrease over time the theory is confirmed, if on the contrary they increase there could be something else in there that is not exactly a pulsar.
Via | NASA