First, SpaceRef.com presents the discovery of the magnetar, "a neutron star with a super-strong magnetic field a thousand trillion times stronger than Earth's" (1). While this science article is rather old, from May 20, 1998, it was included in this Topic in Depth because it offers a great summary of the inquiries and advances in the understanding of magnetars since gamma ray detectors across our solar system recorded an intense radiation spike in 1979. Next, Space.com presents the findings by Bryan Gaensler and his team from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics of the sources of magnetars, which has remained a mystery since they were first discovered in 1998 (2). The website presents the characteristics of magnetars and compares them to pulsars, another type of neutron star. The third website offers images of idealizations of magnetars (3). The images, offering representations of the dipole magnetic field, are available in lower resolution for viewing on the computer screen and high resolution images for printing. At the fourth website, Space.com addresses the explosion of a magnetar that was 100 times more powerful than any blast ever witnessed (4). Users can view artistic impressions of the explosion and its affects on the Earth's atmosphere and magnetic field. The fifth website, like the previous website, addresses the blast from an object named SGR 1806-20 on December 27, 2004 (5). Unlike the last website, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory offers a summary of scientists' findings of the blast using the VLA (Very Large Array) including that the fireball of radio-emitting material is expanding at about one-third the speed of light in an elongated shape, which may change quickly. Next, UC Berkeley describes the observations of the "brightest explosion ever of high-energy x-rays and gamma rays" made by the Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI), a satellite used to study gamma-ray emissions from solar flares (6). The website offers an introduction to magnetars and their amplified magnetic fields. The seventh website, created by Chandra X-Ray Observatory, introduces magnetars along with other types of stars (7). Users can view images of supernova remnants and learn about the evolution of Cassiopeia A, which may contain a magnetar. Lastly, NASA offers an infrared image of the galactic center region with the positions of candidate magnetars (8). Clearly explaining these neutron stars, the website has numerous links to more information about the phenomena presented.


  • Science > General
  • Science > Astronomy
  • Science > Physics

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