Neutron star left over from Supernova 1987A?


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On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

 
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The uncertainty of science: Two different teams of astronomers are now suggesting that, based on evidence recently obtained by the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), a neutron star is what is left over from the star that caused Supernova 1987A, the only naked eye supernova in the past four hundred years.

Recently, observations from the ALMA radio telescope provided the first indication of the missing neutron star after the explosion. Extremely high-resolution images revealed a hot “blob” in the dusty core of SN 1987A, which is brighter than its surroundings and matches the suspected location of the neutron star.

..The theoretical study by Page and his team, published today in The Astrophysical Journal, strongly supports the suggestion made by the ALMA team that a neutron star is powering the dust blob. “In spite of the supreme complexity of a supernova explosion and the extreme conditions reigning in the interior of a neutron star, the detection of a warm blob of dust is a confirmation of several predictions,” Page explained.

These predictions were the location and the temperature of the neutron star. According to supernova computer models, the explosion has “kicked away” the neutron star from its birthplace with a speed of hundreds of kilometers per second (tens of times faster than the fastest rocket). The blob is exactly at the place where astronomers think the neutron star would be today. And the temperature of the neutron star, which was predicted to be around 5 million degrees Celsius, provides enough energy to explain the brightness of the blob.

They haven’t actually gotten any direct evidence of this stellar remnant, so some healthy skepticism is required. At the same time, the data favors this solution, which means the star did not collapse into a black hole when it exploded.

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One comment

  • Phill O

    “They haven’t actually gotten any direct evidence of this stellar remnant, so some healthy skepticism is required.”

    When direct evidence comes, it will be verification of the models, not visa versa. Models can never verify the neutron star, unless there are countless situations where the models have been verified. We know so little! There are always unknown unknowns (as a buddy always says).

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