From so far away, stars look like peaceful dots of light, but starquakes prove otherwise. So what causes these violent celestial phenomena?
Gravitational Waves to Crack Neutron Star Mystery
“We are now in an incredible new era of astronomy where the faint ripples in spacetime caused by distant black hole collisions are being detected and studied. These are the most energetic events in the cosmos and, by “listening in” to their gravitational wave signals, these black hole mergers have finally been directly observed. Although the first detections of gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) have, so far, been exclusive to the collisions of black holes, astrophysicists have far loftier goals.”
The Biggest Starquake Ever
“The biggest starquake ever recorded resulted in oscillations in the X-ray emission from the shaking neutron star. Astronomers hope these oscillations will crack the mystery of what neutron stars are made of. On December 27, 2004, several satellites and telescopes from around the world detected an explosion on the surface of SGR 1806-20, a neutron star 50,000 light years away. The resulting flash of energy — which lasted only a tenth of a second — released more energy than the Sun emits in 150,000 years.”
Magnetars are the most powerful magnets in the universe
“When a massive star collapses under its own gravity during a supernova explosion it forms either a neutron star or black hole. Magnetars are an unusual and very exotic form of neutron star. Like all of these strange objects they are tiny and extraordinarily dense – a teaspoon of neutron star material would have a mass of about a billion tonnes – but they also have extremely powerful magnetic fields. Magnetar surfaces release vast quantities of gamma rays when they undergo a sudden adjustment known as a starquake as a result of the huge stresses in their crusts.”
Seeker inspires us to see the world through the lens of science and evokes a sense of curiosity, optimism and adventure.
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This episode of Seeker was hosted by Trace Dominguez.
Written By: Lauren Ellis