Dead Star 10 Million Times Brighter than Sun, Stuns Scientists
The discovery of a pulsar emitting nearly 10 million times the energy the sun can emit, has researchers scratching their heads.
The discovery made by NASA's NuSTAR telescope has challenged existing notions that only black holes are capable of such feats. Black holes are extremely massive objects with gravitational fields so strong that even light cannot escape them. Usually, such objects are found at the center of galaxies, including the Milky Way.
Given the high density of black holes, they are capable of consuming all objects at a rapid pace. While doing so, there is emission of energy. Ultraluminous X -ray (ULX) sources were always assumed to be black holes, until researchers discovered the pulsar doing the same.
"We took it for granted that the powerful ULXs must be massive black holes. When we first saw the pulsations in the data, we thought they must be from another source," Huffington Post quoted Dr. Matteo Bachetti the study's lead author saying.
The pulsar was found located at the center of cigar-shaped M 82 galaxy, which is about 12 million light-years away from Earth, Yahoo reported. The pulsar, named M 82 X-2, is one of the two ultraluminous objects observed by NASA"s NuSTAR telescope at the center of M 82.
The findings are also exciting as most galaxies have supermassive black holes at their center. Black holes are massive but pulsars are just about 1.4 times the mass of the sun.
"Until now, nobody paid too much attention to neutron stars - pulsars - in ULXs. From now on, people will be looking for more pulsations in these objects that might identify them as pulsars, and so neutron stars. I bet some other ULXs will be identified as pulsars in the following years. If it were as close as the sun, we would be fried before even being born," Bacheti said, according to Yahoo.