Fermi Satellite clocks 'cannonball' pulsar speeding through space

NASA's Fermi Satellite clocks 'cannonball' pulsar speeding through space
The CTB 1 supernova remnant resembles a ghostly bubble in this image, which combines new 1.5 gigahertz observations from the Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope (orange, near center) with older observations from the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory's Canadian Galactic Plane Survey (1.42 gigahertz, magenta and yellow; 408 megahertz, green) and infrared data (blue). The VLA data clearly reveal the straight, glowing trail from pulsar J0002+6216 and the curved rim of the remnant's shell. CTB 1 is about half a degree across, the apparent size of a full Moon. Credit: Composite by Jayanne English, University of Manitoba, using data from NRAO/F. Schinzel et al., DRAO/Canadian Galactic Plane Survey and NASA/IRAS

Astronomers found a pulsar hurtling through space at nearly 2.5 million miles an hour—so fast it could travel the distance between Earth and the Moon in just 6 minutes. The discovery was made using NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and the National Science Foundation's Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA).

Pulsars are superdense, rapidly spinning left behind when a massive star explodes. This one, dubbed PSR J0002+6216 (J0002 for short), sports a radio-emitting tail pointing directly toward the expanding debris of a recent supernova explosion.

"Thanks to its narrow dart-like tail and a fortuitous viewing angle, we can trace this pulsar straight back to its birthplace," said Frank Schinzel, a scientist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Socorro, New Mexico. "Further study of this object will help us better understand how these explosions are able to 'kick' neutron stars to such high speed."

Schinzel, together with his colleagues Matthew Kerr at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, and NRAO scientists Dale Frail, Urvashi Rau and Sanjay Bhatnagar presented the discovery at the High Energy Astrophysics Division meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Monterey, California. A paper describing the team's results has been submitted for publication in a future edition of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Pulsar J0002 was discovered in 2017 by a citizen-science project called Einstein@Home, which uses time on the computers of volunteers to process Fermi gamma-ray data. Thanks to computer processing time collectively exceeding 10,000 years, the project has identified 23 gamma-ray pulsars to date.

Located about 6,500 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia, J0002 spins 8.7 times a second, producing a pulse of gamma rays with each rotation.

New radio observations combined with 10 years of data from NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope have revealed a runaway pulsar that escaped the blast wave of the supernova that formed it. Credit: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center

The pulsar lies about 53 light-years from the center of a supernova remnant called CTB 1. Its rapid motion through interstellar gas results in shock waves that produce the tail of magnetic energy and accelerated particles detected at radio wavelengths using the VLA. The tail extends 13 light-years and clearly points back to the center of CTB 1.

Using Fermi data and a technique called pulsar timing, the team was able to measure how quickly and in what direction the pulsar is moving across our line of sight.

"The longer the data set, the more powerful the pulsar timing technique is," said Kerr. "Fermi's lovely 10-year data set is essentially what made this measurement possible."

The result supports the idea that the pulsar was kicked into high speed by the supernova responsible for CTB 1, which occurred about 10,000 years ago.

J0002 is speeding through space five times faster than the average pulsar, and faster than 99 percent of those with measured speeds. It will eventually escape our galaxy.

At first, the supernova's expanding debris would have moved outward faster than J0002, but over thousands of years the shell's interaction with interstellar gas produced a drag that gradually slowed this motion. Meanwhile, the pulsar, behaving more like a cannonball, steadily raced through the remnant, escaping it about 5,000 years after the explosion.

Exactly how the was accelerated to such high speed during the supernova explosion remains unclear, and further study of J0002 will help shed light on the process. One possible mechanism involves instabilities in the collapsing star forming a region of dense, slow-moving matter that survives long enough to serve as a "gravitational tugboat," accelerating the nascent neutron star toward it.

The team plans additional observations using the VLA, the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) and NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.


Explore further

Kes 75—Milky Way's youngest pulsar exposes secrets of star's demise

Journal information: Astrophysical Journal Letters

Citation: Fermi Satellite clocks 'cannonball' pulsar speeding through space (2019, March 19) retrieved 19 October 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-03-fermi-satellite-clocks-cannonball-pulsar.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
1286 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments

Mar 19, 2019
That is clearly a Shkadov thruster or a Bowl of Heaven. A luxurious way to gallivant around the galaxy.

Mar 19, 2019
That is clearly a Shkadov thruster or a Bowl of Heaven. A luxurious way to gallivant around the galaxy.


That's clearly a galaxy-sized assumption.

Mar 19, 2019
An explosive supernova stellar birth, this stellar tadpole will one day be a full-fledge star.

Mar 20, 2019
Dang observicist It was just a joke :(. I mean I thought for sure that by saying "gallivant around the galaxy" it would be clear to anyone that it was in jest. Galaxy forbid any one have a little fun.

You have to admit it does share a visible resemblance to the hypothetical star ship.

Mar 21, 2019
Take a ride on the Wabash Cannonball...ya right!

But if they are traveling that way they are likely not merchants as there would be no 'return market'.

Mar 21, 2019
What if one of these massively-fast pulsars speeding through space is currently in collision course with our solar system?

Mar 21, 2019
Uhh, just too damn bad?

Reality gets the last laugh on us monkeys?

Start digging a really deep foxhole?

If it is the Wabash Cannonball Express?
Highballing across the Void?
Think we could attach for the ride
as the caboose?

Mar 23, 2019
"Further study of this object will help us better understand how these explosions are able to 'kick' neutron stars to such high speed."

No amount of "study" will allow these plasma ignoramuses to determine how these explosions are able to "kick" stars to these velocities. Clearly the star was part of the "supernova" event. This is observational evidence of the birth of a newborn star from a parent star, an explosive birth of a new star.

Mar 23, 2019
"Further study of this object will help us better understand how these explosions are able to 'kick' neutron stars to such high speed."

No amount of "study" will allow these plasma ignoramuses to determine how these explosions are able to "kick" stars to these velocities. Clearly the star was part of the "supernova" event. This is observational evidence of the birth of a newborn star from a parent star, an explosive birth of a new star.


Stop making up idiotic nonsense. Go get an education.

Mar 23, 2019
What if one of these massively-fast pulsars speeding through space is currently in collision course with our solar system?

Given human eyewitness testimony, a similar type event already occurred in our solar system.

Mar 23, 2019
What if one of these massively-fast pulsars speeding through space is currently in collision course with our solar system?

Given human eyewitness testimony, a similar type event already occurred in our solar system.


No it did not. Stop lying.

Mar 23, 2019
What if one of these massively-fast pulsars speeding through space is currently in collision course with our solar system?


Given human eyewitness testimony, a similar type event already occurred in our solar system


Velikovsky's book 'Worlds in Collision' described a very similar event, a story corroborated worldwide by many disparate cultures. Although some of Velikovsky's details of the events are likely not correct the myths and religions that arose soon after these events have been the basis of culture worldwide.

Mar 23, 2019
What if one of these massively-fast pulsars speeding through space is currently in collision course with our solar system?


Given human eyewitness testimony, a similar type event already occurred in our solar system


Velikovsky's book 'Worlds in Collision' described a very similar event, a story corroborated worldwide by many disparate cultures. Although some of Velikovsky's details of the events are likely not correct the myths and religions that arose soon after these events have been the basis of culture worldwide.


Velikovsky was a loon. Nothing he wrote is of any relevance to science. Or anything else, for that matter. The book was laughable.

Mar 23, 2019
Velikovsky was a loon. Nothing he wrote is of any relevance to science. Or anything else, for that matter. The book was laughable.

The amusing thing, the scientific community (Sagan, et al.) attempted to castigate Velikovsky and show his claims to be false. Their attempts failed miserably and they ended up with egg on their face. Sagan feebly apologized for this inquisition and admitted what a sorry bunch of people the scientific community really are.

Mar 23, 2019
Velikovsky was a loon. Nothing he wrote is of any relevance to science. Or anything else, for that matter. The book was laughable.

The amusing thing, the scientific community (Sagan, et al.) attempted to castigate Velikovsky and show his claims to be false. Their attempts failed miserably and they ended up with egg on their face. Sagan feebly apologized for this inquisition and admitted what a sorry bunch of people the scientific community really are.


No, he did not. And Velikovsky was wrong about everything. Sagan's mistake was giving the clown the oxygen of publicity. He should have just been ignored. As he is by anybody even vaguely scientifically literate. He was an idiot.

Mar 23, 2019
Sagan's mistake was giving the clown the oxygen of publicity. He should have just been ignored. As he is by anybody even vaguely scientifically literate. He was an idiot.

Sagan's comments which are the opposite of jonesdumb's. According to Sagan, jonesdumb is a religionist.
https://youtu.be/0MlN7iVIuhk

Mar 23, 2019
And it would seem as if jonesdumb has officially devolved into a Captain Stoopid type of stalker troll.

Mar 23, 2019
And it would seem as if jonesdumb has officially devolved into a Captain Stoopid type of stalker troll.


What are you talking about, you clown? Velikovsky is nothing to do with science. He hadn't a clue about science. He was a fool. Only an idiot could be impressed by his idiotic ramblings. Which is why the EU dolts seem to base their whole edifice of crapology on his idiocy.

Mar 23, 2019
Velikovsky correctly predicted a hot Venus, Jupiter's radio emissions, and the SS bodies having electric charges when such phenomena were considered "impossible". As you and Sagan agree, the science community only wants to ignore such facts.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more