Astronomers found a pulsar that shot through space at nearly 2.5 million miles an hour – so fast that 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 Very Large Array (VLA) of the National Science Foundation of the National Science Foundation (VLA).
Pulsars are super-dense, fast-rotating neutron stars that remain in the explosion of a massive star. Called PSR J0002 + 6216 (J0002 for short), this transmitter features a tail radiating from the radio, pointing directly at the spreading debris of a recent supernova explosion.
"Thanks to its narrow, arrow-like tail and favorable viewing angle, we can trace this pulsar back to its birthplace," said Frank Schinzel, a scientist at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Socorro, New Mexico. "Further investigations of this object will help us to understand how these explosions can cause neutron stars to" kick "at such a high speed.
Schinzel, together with his colleagues Matthew Kerr of the US Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, and NRAO The scientists Dale Frail , Urvashi Rau and Sanjay Bhatnagar presented the discovery at the American Astronomical Society meeting of the High Energy Astrophysics Division in Monterey, Calif. A paper describing the team's findings was published in a future issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters filed
New Radio Observations Combined with 10 Years of Data from NASA's Fermi Gamma The Ray Space Telescope has unveiled a fugitive pulsar that escaped the blast wave of the supernova from which it originated. Credits: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center
Pulsar J00 02 was discovered in 2017 by a civil science project called [email protected] that uses time on volunteer computers to process Fermi gamma ray data. Thanks to a computer processing time of more than 10,000 years, so far 23 gamma pulsars have been identified.
About 6,500 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia, J0002 spins 8.7 times per second, producing a pulse of gamma rays at each revolution.
The pulsar is about 53 light years from the center of a supernova remnant called CTB 1. Its fast movement through interstellar gas results in shockwaves that produce the tail of magnetic energy and accelerated particles that are detected at radio wavelengths with 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 fast and in which direction the pulsar moves over our line of sight.
"The longer the data set, the more powerful the pulsar timing method," Kerr said. "Fermi's beautiful 10-year data has essentially made this measurement possible."
The result supports the idea that the pulsar was kicked off by the supernova responsible for the CTB 1 some 10,000 years ago.  J0002 is five times faster than the average pulsar through space and faster than 99 percent of the measured speeds. It will eventually escape our galaxy.
Initially, the growing debris of the supernova had slipped faster to J0002, but over thousands of years, interstellar gas interaction produced a resistance that gradually slowed that movement. Meanwhile, the Pulsar, more like a cannonball, raced through the remnant and escaped it about 5,000 years after the explosion.
How exactly the pulsar was accelerated to such a high speed during the supernova explosion remains unclear J0002 helps illuminate the process. One possible mechanism is that instabilities in the collapsing star form a region of dense, slow moving material that survives long enough to serve as a "gravity hauler" that accelerates the emerging neutron star toward it. The team plans additional observations with the VLA, the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), and NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory.
The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a National Science Foundation facility operated by Associated under a collaborative agreement Universities, Inc.
Fermi's Gamma-ray Space Telescope is a partnership between astrophysics and particle physics developed by the Goddard Space Flight Center of NASA in Greenbelt, Maryland. Fermi was developed in collaboration with the US Department of Energy and made important contributions from academic institutions and partners in France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Sweden and the United States.