Usually, all the ‘big stuff’ out there in the Cosmos is extremely old. From stars, planets, and whole galaxies – in general, these objects are several billions of years old. But did you know that a star can be just a little older than a human being? On average, about 400 million stars are born each day in the Universe, so you must not be surprised.
By using telescopes operated by NASA and the European Space Agency, astronomers discovered the youngest magnetar to date: at only 240 years old, the Swift J1818.0-1607 has the potential to allow scientists to understand more about such cosmic objects.
16,000 light-years away from Earth
This is the distance that separates us from the newfound magnetar that’s also located in the Sagittarius constellation. Nanda Rea, who is both co-author on the study and an astronomer from the Institute of Space Sciences in Barcelona, declared:
This object is showing us an earlier time in a magnetar’s life than we’ve ever seen before, very shortly after its formation,
J1818.0-1607 was first spotted by The Swift Observatory. Astronomers gathered further data by using the XMM-Newton observatory of ESA (European Space Agency), the NuSTAR telescope owned by NASA, and the ground-based Sardinia Radio Telescope from Italy. The outcome was concluding the very young age of the magnetar: only 240 years.
Victoria Kaspi, who is an astronomer from the McGill University in Montreal, and also involved in the study, confirmed the obvious:
What’s amazing about [magnetars] is they’re quite diverse as a population,
They’re very strange and very rare and I don’t think we’ve seen the full range of possibilities.
Magnetars are also classified as neutron stars, only that they possess extreme magnetic fields. Those magnetic fields can be up to 1,000 times more powerful than a regular neutron star. Neutron stars are practically corpses of stars, being the collapsed core or remnant of a supernova (aka the explosion of a typical star). Magnetars are very rare, however, as astronomers could detect only a few dozens of them.
The study was published in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.