Astronomers Have Identified The Most Powerful Pulsar Yet in a Distant Galaxy


The dense remains of big stars are neutron stars. They are the star-forming supernova explosions' collapsing cores.

Although we largely understand how they develop, we are still learning about how they change throughout time, especially when they are young.

Large sky surveys, however, have made it possible for astronomers to see a neutron star that may be only a few years old, signaling that this is beginning to change.

VT 1137-0337 is the designation of the relevant neutron star. It was discovered in 2018 as part of the Very Large Array Sky Survey and is located in a dwarf galaxy 400 million light-years from Earth (VLASS). A radio map of the sky is being made as part of the seven-year VLASS project. Over the course of three different runs, it will have successfully mapped around 80% of the sky.

It first observed VT 1137-0337 in 2018, and it observed the neutron star once more in 2019, once more in 2020, and once more in 2022. So, we are certain that it is not only a brief radio burst of some type.

The item is most likely a pulsar wind nebula, according to measurements. The neutron star's magnetic field and energy beams pass through the surrounding nebula as it rotates, ionizing the gas and causing it to generate radio waves.

It's noteworthy to note that VT 1137-0337 was missed by the Faint Images of the Radio Sky at Twenty-Centimeters (FIRST) VLA sky survey, which was conducted in 1998. The neutron star so emerged sometime between 1998 and 2018.

(Dong & Hallinan, NRAO/AUI/NSF)

Images from the VLA taken in 1998 and 2018 show where VT 1137-0337 is located. Sometime between these two dates, the object became visible to the VLA.
On the surface, VT 1137-0337 appears to be less than twenty years old, although it may actually be a little older. It's conceivable that the neutron star was present in 1998, but that the nebula around it was still thick enough to prevent radio waves from reaching Earth.

However, given the speed at which supernova remnants grow, the fog should have dissipated within 60 to 80 years, meaning that even the most conservative estimates place the age of the object in the decades, not the hundreds or millennia. A very young neutron star, maybe as young as 14, is VT 1137-0337.

The Crab Nebula, which was formed by a supernova in 1054 CE, has radio energy that is 10,000 times less than that of VT 1137-0337. This indicates that its magnetic field is substantially stronger. Powerful enough to suggest that VT 1137-0337 could be developing into a magnetar. Fast radio bursts are most likely caused by magnetars, strongly magnetic neutron stars (FRBs).

Therefore, although this may be the first observation of a magnetar birth, it won't be the last. Future sky surveys by astronomers will undoubtedly turn out additional births of these powerful objects.