More than a million miles per hour: NASA’s Chandra catches pulse in X-ray speed trap

The rest of the G292.0 + 1.8 supernova contains a pulsar moving at over a million miles per hour, as seen in the Chandra image along with an optical image from the Digitized Sky Exploration. Pulsars are fast-spinning neutron stars that can form when massive stars run out of fuel, collapse, and explode. Sometimes these explosions produce a “blow”, which sent this pulsar to run through the remnants of the supernova explosion. Additional images show a close-up view of this X-ray pulsar from Chandra, which observed it in both 2006 and 2016 to measure this exceptional speed. Red crosses on each panel show the position of the pulsar in 2006. Credits: X-ray: NASA / CKSC / SAO / L. Ksi et al .; Optics: Palomar DSS2

  • A[{” attribute=””>pulsar is racing through the debris of an exploded star at a speed of over a million miles per hour.
  • To measure this, researchers compared https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60cIjnaiZD4

    The rest of the G292.0 + 1.8 supernova contains a pulsar moving at over a million miles per hour. This image contains data from NASA’s X-ray Observatory Chandra (red, orange, yellow and blue), which was used for this discovery. X-rays are combined with an optical image from Digitized Sky Research, a map of the entire sky.

    Pulsars are rapidly rotating neutron stars that can form when massive stars run out of fuel, collapse and explode. Sometimes these explosions produce a “blow”, which sent this pulsar to run through the remnants of the supernova explosion. The insert shows a close-up view of this pulsar on X-rays from Chandra.

    To make this discovery, the researchers compared Chandra images G292.0 + 1.8 taken in 2006 and 2016. A couple of additional images show a change in the position of the pulsar over a period of 10 years. The change in the position of the source is small because the pulsar is about 20,000 light-years from Earth, but it has traveled about 120 billion miles (190 billion km) during this period. The researchers were able to measure this by combining Chandra’s high-resolution images with a careful technique of checking the coordinates of pulsars and other X-ray sources using precise positions from Gaia satellites.

    Pulsar positions, 2006 and 2016

    Pulsar Positions, 2006 & 2016. Credit: X-ray: NASA / CKSC / SAO / L. Xi et al.

    The team calculated that the pulsar moves at least 1.4 million miles per hour from the center of the rest of the supernova down and down. This speed is about 30% higher than the previous estimate of the pulsar speed, which is based on the indirect method, by measuring how far the pulsar is from the center of the explosion.

    The newly determined speed of the pulsar indicates that G292.0 + 1.8 and its pulsar may be much younger than astronomers previously thought. Researchers estimate that G292.0 + 1.8 would have exploded about 2,000 years ago when viewed from Earth, not 3,000 years ago as previously calculated. This new estimate of age G292.0 + 1.8 is based on extrapolating the position of the pulsar backwards in time so that it coincides with the center of the explosion.

    Several civilizations around the world recorded supernova explosions at that time, which opened the possibility that G292.0 + 1.8 was directly observed. However, G292.0 + 1.8 is below the horizon for most northern hemisphere civilizations that have been able to observe it, and there are no recorded examples of supernovae being observed in the southern hemisphere in the direction of G292.0 + 1.8.

    G292 + 1.8 Close-up

    A closer look at the center of the Chandra G292 + 1.8 image. The direction of movement of the pulsar (arrow) is shown, and the position of the center of the explosion (green oval) based on the movement of debris seen in the optical data. The position of the pulsar has been extrapolated back 3,000 years and the triangle shows the uncertainty in the extrapolation angle. Matching the extrapolated position with the center of the explosion gives an age of about 2,000 years for the pulsar and G292 + 1.8. The center of mass (cross) of the elements detected by X-rays in the fragments (Si, S, Ar, Ca) is located on the opposite side of the center of the explosion from the moving pulsar. This asymmetry of the debris in the upper right corner of the explosion resulted in the ejection of the pulsar in the lower left, preserving the moment. Credit: X-ray: NASA / CKSC / SAO / L. Ksi et al .; Optics: Palomar DSS2

    In addition to learning more about the age of G292.0 + 1.8, the research team also examined how the supernova gave the pulsar its powerful blow. There are two main possibilities, both involving material that the supernova does not emit evenly in all directions. One possibility is that the neutrinos produced in the explosion are ejected from the explosion asymmetrically, and the other is that the debris produced in the explosion is ejected asymmetrically. If the material has the desired direction, the pulsar will be struck in the opposite direction due to the principle of physics called impulse conservation.

    The amount of neutrino asymmetry required to explain the high velocity in this latest result would be extreme, supporting the explanation that the asymmetry in the explosion debris gave the pulsar its impact.

    The energy transferred to the pulsar from this explosion was enormous. Although it is only about 10 miles in diameter, the pulsar’s mass is 500,000 times the Earth’s mass and travels 20 times faster than the Earth’s speed orbiting the Sun.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0itTrIIIOlI

    The latest work by Xi Long and Paul Plucinski (Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian) on G292.0 + 1.8 was presented at the 240th meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Pasadena, California. The results are also discussed in a paper accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal. Other authors of the paper are Daniel Patnaude and Terrance Gaetz, both from the Center for Astrophysics.

    Reference: “Proper movement of the pulsar J1124-5916 in the rest of the galactic supernova G292.0 + 1.8” by Xi Long, Daniel J. Patnaudea, Paul P. Plucinski and Terrance J. Gaetz, Accepted, The Astrophisical Journal.
    archive: 2205.07951

    NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center operates the Chandra program. The Chandra Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory’s X-ray Center oversees scientific operations from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and flights from Burlington, Massachusetts.


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