The agency has found a “neutron star” about 200,000 light years from Earth, with a probability to demonstrate the lowest mass black hole recorded.
NASA astronomers have located a neutron star outside of the Milky Way galaxy, making a substantial first-time discovery for the agency. NASA will launch a mission to learn more about neutron stars.
“Neutron stars are the ultra-dense cores of massive stars that collapse and undergo a supernova explosion,” NASA explains on their website.” This newly identified neutron star is a rare variety that has both a low magnetic field and no stellar companion.”
The incredible image was captured by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Southern Observatory’s VLT (Very Large Telescope ) in Chile.
Scientists analyzing the data collected from the telescope believe that this is an isolated neutron star created in a supernova explosion about two millennia ago.
The spectacular merger of two neutron stars that generated gravitational waves announced in 2017 has likely birthed a black hole. This newly spawned black hole would be the lowest mass black hole ever found.
“Neutron stars pack their mass inside a 20-kilometer (12.4 miles) diameter,” the agency reports. “They are so dense that a single teaspoon would weigh a billion tons, assuming you somehow managed to snag a sample without being captured by the body’s strong gravitational pull. On average, gravity on a neutron star is about 2 billion times stronger than gravity on Earth.”
Ten similar objects have been identified by astronomers before. However, this is the first time one was detected outside of our galaxy.
British astrophysicist Jocelyn Bell first discovered these spinning neutron stars nearly 50 years ago. As a research assistant, Bell helped build a large radio telescope and discovered pulsars, providing the first direct evidence for the existence of spinning neutron stars.
“Two sides of the same coin” is a phrase that means two things that at first appear to be unrelated and represent parts of the same thing. This same concept can be found in the deep recesses of space in the form of a neutron star.
“The agency plans to launch the two-in-one Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer, or NICER, aboard SpaceX CRS-11, a cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station to be launched aboard a Falcon 9 rocket,” NASA said in a statement.
“The mission will focus especially on pulsars — those neutron stars that appear to wink on and off because their spin sweeps beams of radiation past us, like a cosmic lighthouse,” NASA stated.
SpaceX CRS-11 will be equipped with 56 X-ray mirrors that offer direct support in gathering necessary data and observations of pulsar stars.