The nebula is six light-years wide and is a growing cloud of debris formed by a supernova explosion. (The light year is six trillion miles).
The light from this supernova first reached Earth in July 1054 and was attested by astronomers in Japan and China.
When a star explodes, it forms a neutron star, which is the dense core of a star the size of a city like Chicago. This has become a pulsar or fast-spinning neutron star, which is now in the nebula.
This star rotates 30 times per second and is considered one of the brightest pulsars, emitting light in X-rays and radio wavelengths that is visible in our sky. When these rays of light pass from the Earth, scientists can catalog these pulses and determine if it is a pulsar.
It emits bright millisecond long pulses of radio waves, called giant radio pulses, which are accompanied by X-ray jumps.
How the nebula was discovered
A global team of scientists made the discovery using data from NASA’s NICER telescope or the neutron star Interior Composition Explorer, which is located on the International Space Station.
The NICER telescope was used to observe the Cancer Nebula pulsar between August 2017 and August 2019. It was also observed with ground-based telescopes such as the 34-meter plate at the Kashima Space Technology Center in Japan and the 64-meter plate at the Kashima Space Center in Japan. Center for Deep Space Research of the Space Research Agency. Kashima’s telescope was irreparably damaged by a typhoon in 2019.
“Of the more than 2,800 cataloged pulsars, the Crab pulsar is one of the few to emit giant radio pulses that appear sporadically and can be hundreds to thousands of times brighter than ordinary pulses,” said Teruaki Enoto, author of the study and team leader. at the RIKEN Pioneer Research Cluster in Waco, Saitama Prefecture, Japan, in a statement.
“After decades of observations, only Cancer has been shown to amplify its giant radio pulses with radiation from other parts of the spectrum.”
The team was able to analyze the largest amount of X-ray and radio data collected simultaneously by a pulsar, expanding the known energy range by thousands.
The team collected a total of 3.7 million revolutions of the pulsar and 26,000 giant radio pulses from the pulsar.
Giant radio pulses occur in a millionth of a second and can be unpredictable until they appear. Then they release regular pulses.
NICER’s precision allows X-rays to be recorded within 100 nanoseconds after detection.
The telescope can handle it
“NICER’s bright X-ray monitoring capacity is almost four times the combined brightness of both the pulsar and its nebula,” said Zaven Arzumanyan, NICER’s deputy principal investigator and research director at the Space Flight Center. Gosard in Greenbelt, Maryland, in a statement.
“These observations were largely unaffected by the accumulation – where a detector detects two or more X-rays as one event – and other issues that complicated earlier analyzes.”
Analysis of X-rays generated in tandem with giant radio pulses reveals X-ray jumps of about 4%, which is very similar to the 3% increase in visible light that is also associated with pulses.
Although this may sound like a small percentage difference, X-rays are millions of times more energetic than radio waves.
“We still don’t understand how and where pulsars produce their complex and wide-ranging emissions, and I’m glad I contributed another piece to the multi-wave puzzle of these fascinating objects,” said Enoto.
Unlock a space mystery
Understanding more about these giant radio pulses can give an idea of mysterious fast radio waves that travel millions and billions of light years to reach Earth.
Some scientists believe that the mechanics of the origin of giant radio pulses from pulsars may also be the same as the origin of fast radio waves. These bursts, known as FRBs, are also millisecond radio signals, and some of them have even been traced to their source and used to repeat themselves. But their origin is unknown.
These rapid radio bursts, which occur outside our galaxy, are also thought to be related to pulsars.
“However, the relationship between the two is still contradictory, and these findings, along with the forthcoming discoveries about fast radio waves, will help us understand the connection between these phenomena,” Enoto said.