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Seismic Stars

  1. Aug 7, 2004 #1
    When in a supernova a star collapses to a neutron star, its magnetic field increases dramatically in strength. Duncan and Thompson calculated that the magnetic field of a neutron star, normally an already enormous 10^12 tesla could under certain circumstances grow even larger, to about 10^15 tesla. Such a highly magnetic neutron star is called a magnetar.

    In the outer layers of a magnetar, which consist of a plasma of heavy elements (mostly iron), this causes tension which leads to 'starquakes'. These seismic vibrations are extremely energetic, and result in a burst of X-ray and gamma ray radiation. To astronomers, such an object is known as a soft gamma repeater.

    It is estimated that about 1 in 10 supernova explosions results in a magnetar rather than a more standard neutron star or pulsar.

    The energy of these explosions slows the rotation (causing magnetars to rotate much more slowly than other neutron stars of a similar age) and lessens the electric field, and after only about 10,000 years the starquakes are over.

  2. jcsd
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