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|Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2012 11:35 pm Post subject: Researchers find the first neutron star that bursts
|Researchers find the first neutron star that bursts as predicted.
Jennifer Chu, MIT News Office March 2, 2012
A model burster - Plasma from a neighboring star gets pulled into the orbit of a
neutron star, where it slams into the stellar surface, creating thermonuclear explosions.
|For the first time, researchers at MIT and elsewhere have detected all phases of thermonuclear burning in a neutron star. The star, located close to the center of the galaxy in the globular cluster Terzan 5, is a “model burster,” says Manuel Linares, a postdoc at MIT’s Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research.
Linares and his colleagues from MIT, McGill University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Amsterdam analyzed X-ray observations from NASA’s Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) satellite, and discovered the star is the first of its kind to burst the way that models predict. What’s more, the discovery may help explain why such a model star has not been detected until now. A paper to be published in the March 20 issue of The Astrophysical Journal details the group’s findings.
“These are extreme laboratories,” Linares says. “We can study fundamental physics by looking at what happens on and around the surface of neutron stars.”