Phantom Neutron Star Races Through Space At An Impressive Speed

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Astronomers spotted a phantom neutron star which travels through the galaxy at an impressive speed. The ghostly pulsar appeared after a supernova explosion took place more than 10,000 years ago. It flies through space at a speed of 2.5 million miles per hours, which is quite an astounding feat. For reference, a spacecraft traveling at the same velocity would be able to cover the distance from Earth to the Moon in less than six minutes.

The researchers discovered it while they were using the high-power Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array which is owned by the National Science Foundation. According to some measurements, the phantom neutron star can be found at a distance of 53 light-years away from the center of a supernova site named CTB 1.

As it passes through the galaxy, the rapid-moving star interacts with interstellar gases, leading to the generation of shockwaves that allowed the researchers to track down the object. The shockwaves themselves will create a trail of magnetic energy that accelerates particles which can be seen with the help of the Very Large Array (also known as VLA).

A phantom neutron star races through the galaxy

Further observation revealed that the trail leads back to the center of CTB 1. The researchers believe that the data collected from the observation of this ghostly pulsar will allow them to understand the mechanics which lead to the formation of neutron stars and the incredible speeds which can be achieved by these objects as they travel through space.

A similar phantom neutron star was also discovered in 2017 during a citizen-science project. Participants installed a program on their computers which allowed researchers to harness the power of the devices and process data which was collected with the help of the Fermi Space Telescope.

By using the data collected by Fermi and a measuring technique called “pulsar timing,” the researchers calculated the speed and direction of this newly found ghostly pulsar. The team is already planning to continue observation in the future. The results of the study were published in a peer-reviewed journal.


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