These Two Pulsars Tails Offer Geometry Lessons To Astronomers

Posted: Jan 18 2017, 1:21pm CST | by , in News | Latest Science News

These Two Pulsars Tails Offer Geometry Lessons to Astronomers
An artist's representation of what the three unusual tails of the pulsar Geminga may look like close up. NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory is giving astronomers a better look at pulsars and their associated pulsar wind nebulae, enabling new constraints on the geometry of pulsars and why they look the way they do from Earth. CREDIT: Nahks Tr'Ehnl

New research shows difference between two pulsars, Geminga and B0355+54

Pulsars like astronomers have always fascinated the astronomers since they were discovered 50 years before. Two studies were conducted to study pulsars; and the team suggested that images from NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory of two pulsars, named Geminga and B0355+54 may develop a light on the distinctive emission signatures of pulsars, and their perplexing geometry.

These pulsars are neutron stars developed during explosions of heavy stars. Initially, these pulsars were detected as radio emissions, but new research shows that the pulsars also emit gamma rays of high energy.

The beams don’t matchup, as both gamma rays and radio emissions are different that raised a debate about pulsar model, said Bettina Posselt, senior research associate in astronomy and astrophysics, Penn State.

Posselt also said that the different between pulsars is difficult to understand; perhaps it’s due to their geometry. The difference also depends on pulsar’s spin and magnetic axes which exists with respect to line of sight, like how we see them.

Astronomers detected the change through images which showed the geometry of charged particle winds in x-ray and other objects. Pulsars rotate at high speed about hundreds of km per second.

PWN pulsar wind nebule develop when particle emissions from pulsars travel along magnetic fields of stars and create tori, donut type rings around pulsars plane, and spin axes that often sweeps back to tails when pulsars pass through interstellar medium.

The result of both studies was great, and the 3D structure the visible winds in the images show how we can detect the plasma injected at the center by pulsar, said Roger W. Romani, professor of physics at Stanford University and principal investigator of the Chandra PWN project.

The two different pulsars are Geminga pulsar and B0355+54 pulsars. Geminga is very close to earth, like only 800 light years away from Earth, and it has huge tails, said Posselt.

Whereas another pulsar called B0355+54 is about 3,300 light years away from Earth and it has a cap of emission on its tail, with a double tail that is extended five light years from the star. Geminga shows pulses in the gamma ray spectrum, but B0355+54 are visible in radio waves, said Posselt.

Both seem different due to pulsars’ spin and magnetic axis orientations that makes the difference in emissions’ visibility.

Both studies are available online, and the study on Geminga published in the Astrophysical Journal.

Though, both studies showed different results, but they help scientists in investigating particle physics in conditions which are difficult to copy on earth in a particle accelerator.

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