Imagine the Universe!
Imagine Home  |   Ask an Astrophysicist  |  
Ask an Astrophysicist

The Question

(Submitted June 09, 2010)

Is it true that magnetars are not unique objects, but are just a phase in the lifespan of pulsars?

The Answer


Thanks for your question! Both magnetars and pulsars are special types of neutron stars. A magnetar is a highly magnetized neutron star and a pulsar is a rapidly-rotating neutron star with a electromagnetic jet that sweeps across the sky as the star spins. We have observations of both types of objects, and they certainly may be unique. However, there was some recent work by scientists at McGill University and NASA that showed observations of a single neutron star that seemed to exhibit both magnetar-like and pulsar-like behavior. What we don't know is if this is a very special object or if magnetars and pulsars are always related.

Here is a link to a press release on the discovery: http://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/news/item/?item_id=29230

Hope that Helps!
-Ira & Kevin
for "Ask an Astrophysicist"

Previous question
Prev
Main topic
Main
Next question
Next

Imagine the Universe is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

The Imagine Team
Acting Project Leader: Dr. Barbara Mattson
All material on this site has been created and updated between 1997-2012.

DVD Table of Contents
Educator's Index