Thanks to data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, a team of astronomers has successfully confirmed the Milky Way’s youngest known pulsar. The mission has studied the supernova remnant for over 15 years and has collected invaluable information about its rapid expansion, physical properties, and surrounding environment. This new discovery could provide key information about the death of stars.
Pulsing through space
When a massive star collapses in on itself and explodes in a supernova, it leaves behind a tiny, incredibly dense neutron star. This highly magnetized, rapidly spinning star emits a bright beam of radiation that’s sometimes in the sightline of Earth. When it is, we’re able to see the beam “pulse” as it passes by.
More than 2,000 of these pulsars have been detected since they were first discovered in 1967, but many aspects of them, like the stars they were born from and how they evolve, still remain a mystery.