A team of researchers involved in a study lately identified a pulsar seemingly in the process of consuming a dwarf star some six thousand five hundred light years ahead of the Earth.
This historical observation could be possible by performing some special geometry of the duo star orbiting one another. One of the duos is known as the brown dwarf and is characteristically lightweight and cool and has an identical tail of gases like that of comets. The other one is a unique star that is spinning at a high speed, known as a pulsar.
The lead author of the study, Robert Main at the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Toronto said in a statement, “The gas is acting as like a magnifying glass right in front of the pulsar.” Main further added, “We are essentially looking at the pulsar through a naturally occurring magnifier which periodically allows us to see the two regions separately.”
The pulsar is basically a swiftly spinning (at near about six hundred times per second) neutron star. During its spinning, the pulsar generates radiation beams from 2 hotspots situated on the surface. The dwarf star known as the brown dwarf is around one-third of the Sun’s diameter. The star is near about 2 million kilometers away from the speeding pulsar and orbits it in only nine hours. The brown dwarf is tidally attached with the pulsar thereby making one of its sides always face the pulsar. The high radiation being generated by the pulsar tends to heat up the attached side of the cool brown dwarf to near about six thousand degrees C.
Usually, the pulsars present in these duo structures are known as “black widow” pulsars. The name is said to have been borrowed from the “black widow spider,” which tends to consume its mate.
As said by the researchers of the study, the observations may prove to be of help in understanding the strange Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs). Main said, “Many observed properties of FRBs could be explained if they are being amplified by plasma lenses.” He further explained, “The properties of the amplified pulses we detected in our study show a remarkable similarity to the bursts from the repeating FRB, suggesting that the repeating FRB may be lensed by plasma in its host galaxy.”
This pulsar in the duo structure has been named as PSR B1957+20 and is regarded to be the largest pulsar ever known. These observations of the study were published in the Nature journal on 24th May.