Martedì, 25 Settembre 2018

Italians find biggest magnetic field in cosmos


(By Christopher Livesay)

Rome, August 14 - The most powerful magnetic field
ever observed in the known universe is located in the Milky Way
6,500 light years from Earth's solar system, according to
groundbreaking research by Italian scientists.
"It's the discovery we had been expecting for a long time"
lead researcher and astrophysicist Andrea Tiengo told ANSA.
The findings, which were uncovered by researchers at
Pavia's Iuss University and the National Astrophysics Institute
(Inaf), were published in the magazine Nature.
The study, according to researchers, marks the first time
humans have directly witnessed the bizarre cosmic phenomenon
known as a magnetar: a neutron star with an extremely powerful
magnetic field.
With a mass greater than that of the Sun, magnetars are
typically around 20 kilometres in diameter.
Their density is even greater.
According to scientists, a thimble full of its interior's
substance would have a mass of over 100 million tons.
Unlike typical neutron stars, magnetars rotate
comparatively slowly, with most completing a rotation once every
one to 10 seconds as opposed to less than one second for an
average neutron star.
Its resulting magnetic field generates very intense bursts
of X-rays and gamma rays, with a very short active life of
roughly 10,000 years.
Scientists estimate there are 30 million or more inactive
magnetars in the Milky Way.
The magnetic field Tiengo's team observed is the result of
a star that used to occupy the same place.
Once it completely decayed, it generated an extremely dense
object very similar to a black hole, with a notably large and
powerful magnetic field.
"What we published is the first direct measurement of a
magnetic field of a magnetar," said Tiengo.
"In fact we cannot exclude the possibility that shortly
after the Big Bang there were magnetic fields more powerful than
what we have observed".
Scientists say the results of their research is a first
step towards making a proper catalogue of magnetars in the
universe in order to understand the behavior of matter when
subjected to magnetic fields that are so intense it is
impossible to reproduce in a laboratory.

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