An elongated dust ring encloses the dead star in the constellation Adler. (Image: NASA / JPL-Caltech)
Reading American astronomers have discovered a bizarre ring around a dead star: the dust ring was probably created from a former cloud, the dead star? a so-called magnetar? enveloped. This magnetar then hollowed out the cloud of dust, leaving a gigantic deformed ring seven and three light-years wide. Researchers led by Stefanie Wachter of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena have discovered the dust ring with the Spitzer Space Telescope in the constellation Adler. The observations can help explain how stars behave in their final stages. Already in the year 1998 the magnetar SGR 1900 + 14 was in the focus of the researchers: The stellar corpse, which possesses a particularly high magnetic field, briefly flared up and radiated a powerful impulse at X-rays. This radiation pattered on the Earth's atmosphere and was detected by numerous satellites. At this event, the magnetar must have hollowed out the dust cloud surrounding it, too, suspects Wachter. Other explanations are ruled out. The ring seems to be stable and does not expand any further. Thus, it is not a direct consequence of a propagating explosion wave.

The structure of the dust ring can only be seen by the reflected light of stars from its surroundings with the Spitzer Space Telescope. The researchers now want to observe these nearby stars to deduce their movement on the mass of the dust ring. From this they want to learn more about the development processes and the further development of magnetars. Magnetars form when certain stars explode in a so-called supernova, collapsing parts of the stellar matter into a residual nucleus.

Message from NASA ddp / science.de? Martin Schäfer

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