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Discover a new type of star that has the potential to become a magnetar!

Discover a new type of star that has the potential to become a magnetar!

Some researchers have discovered a still active star that is likely to become a magnetar and that could shed light on the origin of these objects.

Magnets are the strongest magnets in the world‘being. These super-dense dead stars with super-strong magnetic fields have been found throughout our galaxy, but astronomers still don’t know exactly how they form. Now, using multiple telescopes around the world, including facilities at ESO (the European Southern Observatory), researchers have discovered a still-active star that has the potential to become a magnetar. This discovery marks the discovery of a new type of astronomical object, massive and magnetar helium stars, and sheds light on the origin of magnetars.

Mysterious nature

Although it has been observed for more than 100 years, the nebulous nature of HD 45166 is not easily explained by conventional models, and not much is known about it other than the fact that it belongs to a pair of stars it is rich in helium and is many times more massive than the Sun. Having already studied similar helium-rich stars, Scientists think magnetic fields can solve the problem. In fact, magnetic fields are known to influence the behavior of stars and could explain why conventional models fail to describe HD 45166, which is located about 3,000 light-years away in the constellation Unicorn.

Artist’s impression of HD 45166, The star that can become a magnets. Credit: ESO/L. Calzada

Various tools used for the study

The researchers set out to study the star using various instruments around the world. The main observations were made in February 2022 using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope instrument capable of detecting and measuring magnetic fields. The team also drew on important archival data obtained using ESO’s Wide Field Optical Spectrometer (FEROS) at La Silla Observatory in Chile. The star has an incredibly strong magnetic field of 43,000 gauss, which makes it HD 45166 is the largest magnetar yet found. This observation marks the discovery of the first ever massive, magnetar helium star.

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You will become a magnet!

It also provides clues to the origin of magnetars, dead, spinning stars entangled with magnetic fields at least a billion times stronger than HD 45166. The team’s calculations indicate that this star will end its life as a magnetar. As it collapses under its own gravity, the magnetic field will strengthen and the star will eventually become a very compact core with a magnetic field of about 100 trillion gauss, the strongest type of magnet in the universe. Schnarr and his team also discovered that HD 45166 has a smaller mass than previously reported, about twice that of the Sun, and that its companion star orbits at a much greater distance than previously thought. In addition, research indicates that HD 45166 formed from the merger of two smaller, helium-rich stars.