National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s shared a spectacular image of a supernova captured by Chandra X-ray Observatory on its Instagram page last weekend. The American space agency captured a bright source of light at the centre of supernova RCW 103 remnant in 2016. The stellar object is about 10, 700 light from Earth.
In its caption, NASA wrote that the bright source at the centre of supernova remnant RCW 103 is a neutron star. A supernova is an astronomical process that occurs during the last evolutionary stages of a massive star. Meanwhile, a neutron star is the collapsed core of a massive supergiant star, which had a total mass of between 10 and 25 solar masses, or probably more if the star was especially metal-rich.
NASA further explained the supernova by writing that to form one, the matter in a neutron star is packed together extremely tightly. To add, NASA mentioned that a sugar-cube-sized amount of neutron star material would weigh roughly the weight of Mount Everest.The post has garnered over 20, 246 likes on the photo-sharing site. Many space enthusiasts shared their thoughts on the post as some called it “amazing”, while others found it “fascinating”.
Explaining its properties, NASA has said that this object is the most extreme pulsars, or rotating neutron stars, ever detected. A compact neutron star is the source for the same. It exhibits properties of a highly magnetized neutron star, or magnetar. However, the deduced spin period is thousands of times longer than any pulsar ever observed.
The RCW 103 supernova is unique because the regular variation in the X-ray brightness of its source, with a period of about six and a half hours, presented a puzzle to astronomers. All its proposed models could not clearly explain the slow periodicity, but the main ideas were of either a spinning neutron star that is rotating extremely slowly because of an unknown slow-down mechanism, or a faster-spinning neutron star.
After data was collected from NASA’s Chandra X-Ray, Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, ESA's XMM-Newton, astronomers expect that a single neutron star will be spinning swiftly after its birth in the supernova explosion and will then slow down gradually as it loses energy. However, astronomers believe that the magnetar or the neutron star within RCW 103 is nearly 2,000 years old, which is not enough time for the pulsar to slow down to a period of 24,000 seconds by traditional means.