IGR J11014-6103: Chandra sees runaway pulsar firing an extraordinary jet

Feb 18, 2014
Credit  X-ray: NASA/CXC/ISDC/L.Pavan et al, Radio: CSIRO/ATNF/ATCA Optical: 2MASS/UMass/IPAC-Caltech/NASA/NSF

(Phys.org) —NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory has seen a fast-moving pulsar escaping from a supernova remnant while spewing out a record-breaking jet—the longest of any object in the Milky Way galaxy—of high-energy particles.

The pulsar, a type of neutron star, is known as IGR J11014-6103. IGR J11014-6103's peculiar behavior can likely be traced back to its birth in the collapse and subsequent explosion of a massive star.

Originally discovered with the European Space Agency satellite INTEGRAL, the pulsar is located about 60 light-years away from the center of the supernova remnant SNR MSH 11-61A in the constellation of Carina. Its implied speed is between 2.5 million and 5 million mph, making it one of the fastest pulsars ever observed.

"We've never seen an object that moves this fast and also produces a jet," said Lucia Pavan of the University of Geneva in Switzerland and lead author of a paper published Tuesday in the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics. "By comparison, this jet is almost 10 times longer than the distance between the sun and our nearest star."

The X-ray jet in IGR J11014-6103 is the longest known in the Milky Way galaxy. In addition to its impressive span, it has a distinct corkscrew pattern that suggests the pulsar is wobbling like a spinning top.

IGR J11014-6103 also is producing a cocoon of high-energy particles that enshrouds and trails behind it in a comet-like tail. This structure, called a pulsar wind nebula, has been observed before, but the Chandra data show that the long jet and the pulsar wind nebula are almost perpendicular to one another.

"We can see that this pulsar is moving directly away from the center of the supernova remnant based on the shape and direction of the pulsar wind nebula," said co-author Pol Bordas, from the University of Tuebingen in Germany. "The question is, why is the jet pointing off in this other direction?"

Usually, the spin axis and jets of a pulsar point in the same direction as they are moving, but IGR J11014-6103's spin axis and direction of motion are almost at right angles.

"With the pulsar moving one way and the jet going another, this gives us clues that exotic physics can occur when some stars collapse," said co-author Gerd Puehlhofer also of the University of Tuebingen.

One possibility requires an extremely fast rotation speed for the iron core of the star that exploded. A problem with this scenario is that such fast speeds are not commonly expected to be achievable.

The supernova remnant that gave birth to IGR J11014-6013 is elongated from top-right to bottom-left in the image roughly in line with the jet's direction. These features and the high speed of the are hints that jets could have been an important feature of the supernova explosion that formed it.

Explore further: Astronomers measure weight of galaxies, expansion of universe

More information: arxiv.org/abs/1309.6792

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User comments : 10

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Caliban
4 / 5 (1) Feb 18, 2014
Maybe a gravitationally bound binary companion?
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (2) Feb 19, 2014
Maybe a gravitationally bound binary companion?


That was my first thought too, it would need to be close in though, a hard binary, in order to have avoided being left behind during the SN and it is more likely that the material from the companion would be drawn into the jets.

The supernova remnant that gave birth to IGR J11014-6013 is elongated from top-right to bottom-left in the image roughly in line with the jet's direction. These features and the high speed of the pulsar are hints that jets could have been an important feature of the supernova explosion that formed it.


The deflagration is expected to start off-centre hence giving the neutron star its momentum and the fact that the jet is roughly aligned with the directon of motion suggests it may have started on the axis rather then being a result of the jet. However, there seems to be a contradiction in the article, reading the original paper is going to be important (later).
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (2) Feb 19, 2014
The deflagration is expected to start off-centre hence giving the neutron star its momentum and the fact that the jet is roughly aligned with the directon of motion suggests it may have started on the axis rather then being a result of the jet. However, there seems to be a contradiction in the article, reading the original paper is going to be important (later).


I misread the part about the remnant, that should read:

The deflagration is expected to start off-centre hence giving the neutron star its momentum and the fact that the jet is normally aligned with the directon of motion suggests it may have started on the axis rather then being a result of the jet. However, this seems to be an exception to that rule.
Tuxford
1 / 5 (2) Feb 19, 2014
Come on guys. State the obvious. Long-lived jet not produced by accretion of surrounding gas nebula????

Watson, where could the material come from then????

Such an extremely dense object would naturally produce an accelerated growth from within. And since it is not the famous fictitious black in nature, it could eject such material routinely, leaving both a wake of material in the wind nebula, while plumbing the rest unidirectionally along the jet.
Nikstlitselpmur
not rated yet Feb 19, 2014
Five million miles per hour, 3/4 the speed of light, if it was heading towards us it would be here in a hundred years. If an object of this mass can reach those speeds through space time, it follows that a black hole could also possibly travel that fast or faster, maybe its mass is a result of mass increase resulting from approaching the speed of light or.mass-energy equivalence
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (2) Feb 19, 2014
Come on guys. State the obvious.


OK, since the spin axis precesses, it obviously must have a companion.

Long-lived jet not produced by accretion of surrounding gas nebula????


Correct, it is obviously accreting from its companion which is obviously overflowing its Roche lobe.

Watson, where could the material come from then????


Duh, elementary my dear Holmes.

Of course what is "obvious" may not be correct, but then if you want to guess rather than do the science to find out, you probably don't care about veracity anyway.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (3) Feb 19, 2014
In addition to its impressive span, it has a distinct corkscrew pattern

That's what Birkeland currents do, the helical nature of the currents is ubiquitous.

but the Chandra data show that the long jet and the pulsar wind nebula are almost perpendicular to one another.

Distinctive signature of EM, gravity is of little consequence in this electric discharge phenomena.
yyz
5 / 5 (2) Feb 19, 2014
"...since the spin axis precesses, it obviously must have a companion."

"...it is obviously accreting from its companion which is obviously overflowing its Roche lobe."

Do you have any references that present evidence for a companion? I've skimmed the paper that this article discusses and it only mentions that the helical pattern of the jet could be due to precession of the pulsar(P~66yr) or the development of kink instabilities: http://arxiv.org/...92v2.pdf

Other recent studies of IGR J11014-6103 make no mention of a companion:

http://arxiv.org/...36v1.pdf

http://arxiv.org/...32v1.pdf

The possibility of a pulsar companion sounds like an interesting idea, I was just wondering if you had a reference?
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (1) Feb 20, 2014
Distinctive signature of EM, gravity is of little consequence in this electric discharge phenomena

@cantdrive
this is personal conjecture based upon ????

you are making assumptions that cannot be supported

if you are so sure, please provide links to reputable science to support your claims
(that means leave out the EU PSEUDOSCIENCE)
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (2) Feb 20, 2014
"...since the spin axis precesses, it obviously must have a companion."

"...it is obviously accreting from its companion which is obviously overflowing its Roche lobe."

Do you have any references that present evidence for a companion?


Nope, I was being sarcastic in response to Tuxford's "Come on guys. State the obvious."

The hint was: "Of course what is 'obvious' may not be correct, ...."

Sorry if that wasn't clear.