A team of researchers recently published a paper about the study they conducted on the Vela Pulsar, a neutron star located 1,000 light-years away from our home planet. Neutron stars some of the densest objects in the entire universe, rotating at immense speeds, usually at regular paces. However, neutron stars sometimes start spinning faster out-of-nowhere.
Scientists believe this phenomenon, called a “glitch,” is caused by portions of the inside layers of the star being moved outwards. This offers astronomers the chance to gain a little bit more knowledge about these mysterious objects. The journal Nature Astronomy just published a paper on Vela Pulsar submitted by a team of scientists from Monash University, the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav), McGill University in Canada, and the University of Tasmania.
Dr. Greg Ashton, the first author of the paper, stated that this specific neutron star is known for glitching once every three years, making it the perfect subject for such a study. Another member of the team is Dr. Jim Palfreyman, who made several observations about the Vela glitch in 2016.
A neutron star anomaly helps scientists learn more about these space objects
The team reanalyzed the data gathered back then, discovering that Vela Pulsar started to spin even faster, before relaxing to a final state. This observation has excellent value, as it provides insight into the interior of the mysterious star. It seems that the inside of the Vela Pulsar is made up of three different components.
Dr. Lasky, another member of the team, said: “One of these components, a soup of superfluid neutrons in the inner layer of the crust, moves outwards first and hits the rigid outer crust of the star causing it to spin up. But then, the second soup of superfluid that moves in the core catches up to the first causing the spin of the star to slow back down. This overshoot has been predicted a couple of times in the literature, but this is the first real-time it’s been identified in observations.”
However, there is one observation that scientists are still struggling to find an explanation for. Right before the glitch, the star slows down its rotation rate for a brief moment. The scientists hope that the new paper will inspire new theories on neutron stars and glitches.
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.