Artist's impression of a magnetar
Date: 12 April 2012
Depicts: Artist's impression of a magnetar
This illustration depicts a magnetar: a spinning neutron star, characterised by rotation periods between 2 and 10 seconds, occasional episodes of extremely enhanced emission, and intense, short bursts of X-rays and gamma rays;
these highly energetic events are presumed to be powered by an intense magnetic field.
A new, comprehensive study of the magnetar 1E 1547.0-5408 (see Kuiper et al., 2012), using data from INTEGRAL, RXTE and Swift, revealed unusual behaviour - the creation of
both pulsed and unpulsed luminous non-thermal X-ray emission after a star quake. This
is consistent with a model (Beloborodov, 2009) in which a star quake
twists magnetic field lines that are anchored to the star's surface. When
these twisted lines unravel they release magnetic energy and produce the
In this illustration, the curves converging at the poles of the magnetar
represent the dipolar magnetic field lines; the entangled lines inside the
magnetar symbolise the internal magnetic field.
Last Update: 1 September 2019