Science 3 min read

New Gravitational Waves Discovery Finds Hyper-Massive Magnetar

The observance of gravitational waves last year have led to quite as a stir as they have brought researchers to discover a hyper-massive magnetar for the first time.

A new discovery used gravitational waves to find a hyper massive neutron star. | Image By Jurik Peter | Shutterstock

A new discovery used gravitational waves to find a hyper massive neutron star. | Image By Jurik Peter | Shutterstock

Last year’s neutron-star collision that astronomers thought would have generated a black hole gave rise to a larger, hyper-massive neutron star instead.

It took astronomers one hundred years to finally detect gravitational waves that Einstein theorized in 1915.

Including the first discovery in 2016, scientists detected gravitational waves on seven occasions, the last of which was last year.

The LIGO and VIRGO observatories spotted this event on August 2017 — hence its name GW170817.

At first, scientists thought these gravitational waves originated from a Kilonova. They then thought that the event led to the formation of a black hole.

A Kilonova is an astronomical collision that involves either two neutron stars, or a neutron star and a black hole.

Read More: Astrophysicists Discover Gravitational Waves From a Kilonova

A new study, however, suggests the merger led to the formation of a hypermassive neutron star, or a magnetar.

The research is the work of astrophysicists Maurice van Putten from Sejong University and Massimo della Valle of the Osservatorio Astronomico de Capodimonte.

The multi-messenger” event that was GW170817 highlights the significance of multi-messenger astrophysics and gravitational wave astronomy.

An astronomical event or phenomenon is a “multi-messenger” when its study involves at least two different types of signals

In the case of the neutron star-crush from last year “observatories detected emission in gamma rays, X-rays, ultraviolet, visible light, infrared and radio waves – an unprecedented observing campaign that confirmed the location and nature of the source,” said researchers.

When the two astrophysicists reanalyzed GW170817 data from LIGO and VIRGO using a novel technique, they found a descending “chirp” that lasted 5 seconds that “started between the end of the initial burst of gravitational waves and a subsequent burst of gamma rays.”

This transient gravitational-wave chirp was 49 hertz to 1 kilohertz in frequency. This suggested its source could be a supermagnetic type of neutron star known as a magnetar rather than a stellar black hole like previously thought.

Hypermassive magnetars are nothing new to astronomers. However, inferring its nature here from the gravitational waves it originates is a first.

Van Putten, the paper’s co-author, noted that “we’re still very much in the pioneering era of gravitational wave astronomy. So it pays to look at data in detail. For us this really paid off, and we’ve been able to confirm that two neutron stars merged to form a larger one.”

A nascent field, gravitational wave astronomy will get another boost with the entry of the  Kamioka Gravitational Wave Detector (KAGRA) in the Kamioka Observatory next year.

What other celestial bodies do you think could be discovered in this way?

Found this article interesting?

Let Zayan Guedim know how much you appreciate this article by clicking the heart icon and by sharing this article on social media.


Profile Image

Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

Comments (0)
Most Recent most recent
You
1
share Scroll to top

Link Copied Successfully

Sign in

Sign in to access your personalized homepage, follow authors and topics you love, and clap for stories that matter to you.

Sign in with Google Sign in with Facebook

By using our site you agree to our privacy policy.