A sleeping magnetar managed to puzzle the scientists as it became suddenly active after ten years of inactivity. A magnetar is a spinning star, a type of neutron star, that is the densest space object in the Univers after black holes.
The sleeping magnetar observed by scientists is the remnant of a more massive star, and it is a radio magnetar. The scientists called it XTE J1810–197, and it is one of the only 23 such space objects and one of just four radio magnetars ever identified by astronomers. XTE J1810–197 has been observed in 2004 for the first time and, four years later, in 2008, it became inactive.
However, out of the blue, in December 2018, that sleeping magnetar woke up jetting its bright radio emissions towards Earth, once again, surprising the scientists. The results of the study were uploaded on arXiv this month.
Scientists identified that a sleeping magnetar became active, once again, after ten years of inactivity
“After spending almost a decade in a radio-quiet state, the Anomalous X-ray Pulsar XTE J1810–197 turned back on in early December 2018. We have observed this radio magnetar at 1.5 GHz with daily cadence since the first detection of radio re-activation on 8 December 2018,” the scientists reported in their study.
Even though the researchers observed the awaking of the strange sleeping magnetar and have studied it thoroughly since it woke up, they have no clues on why XTE J1810–197 became dormant in the first place and why it became active again after about ten years of inactivity. However, magnetars are among the most mysterious space objects in the Universe, so scientists do not know much about them.
But what puzzled the researchers is that this sleeping magnetar has been acting entirely different since it returned activity in comparison with the observations gathered between 2004 and 2008 when it became dormant. According to the recent study, the magnetar shows oscillations in the radio signal it emits, and those might be the outcome of energy waves crossing over its surface.
Jasmine holds a Master’s in Journalism from Ryerson University in Toronto and writes professionally in a broad variety of genres. She has worked as a senior manager in public relations and communications for major telecommunication companies, and is the former Deputy Director for Media Relations with the Modern Coalition. Jasmine writes primarily in our LGBTTQQIAAP and Science section.