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Light pulses from the magnetar Westerlund 1 before and after the ‘cosmic hiccup’
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- Title Light pulses from the magnetar Westerlund 1 before and after the ‘cosmic hiccup’
- Released 04/04/2007 9:48 am
- Copyright ESA/XMM-Newton/ California Institute of Technology, M.Muno/G.Israel
Located in a star cluster about 15 000 light-years away in the Ara constellation in the southern hemisphere, the magnetar goes by the unwieldy official name CXOU J164710.2-455216.
These images were taken by the European Photon Imaging Camera (EPIC), on board ESA’s XMM-Newton satellite, using 0.3-12.0 keV photons. The left panel shows the image of the field before the burst. The magnetar is brighter in the right panel, taken after the burst.
A seismic event was observed on this object on September 2005 while it was being heavily observed with several satellites, including ESA’s X-ray satellite, XMM-Newton, and NASA's Swift X-ray and gamma-ray observatory. The event caused the surface of the dense star to crack and shine brightly from multiple sources. The light ‘pulses’ from the neutron star as detected by the camera are superimposed.