AstroTalk Episode May 1, 2014

AstroTalk with Marco - Episode 1: Death Star

3:04pm - 3:42pm

In 1967 Jocelyn Bell, then a graduate student, discovered the first neutron star. The pulse emitted by this neutron star puzzled astronomers. Neutron stars emit beams of electromagnetic radiation as they spin, and spin very rapidly they do. Unable to classify this object, it was dubbed LGM1, or Little Green Men. Some people believed that the pulse of radiation from this neutron star was a signal sent by an alien civilization, because the pulses it was emitting were at regular intervals. This neutron star was later dubbed PSR B1919+2. The P stands for pulsar, because neutron stars emit radiation in regular, pulsed intervals. Neutron stars are made of neutrons, but they are not really stars. They are the remains of a star that has died in a supernova explosion. Some neutron stars become magnetars, the most magnetized objects in our universe. In 2007, the magnetar SGR 1806 underwent a starquake. In a fraction of a second, more energy was emittted by this neutron star than our Sun emits in 100,000 years. Magnetars can be death stars if they are too close to Earth, and if their axes of rotation are pointed at the Earth. When stars like SGR 1806 emit powerful gammar rays bursts, GBRs, then we'd better watch out. GBRs are amongst the most powerful bursts of energy in our universe. Today , you will learn about magnetars and death stars.