We might have noticed the primary magnetar flare exterior our galaxy

Image of a whitish smear running diagonally across the frame, with a complex, branching bit of red material in the foreground.

Enlarge / M82, the location of what is prone to be an enormous flare from a magnetar. (credit score: NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Group)

Gamma rays are a broad class of high-energy photons, together with every thing with extra vitality than an X-ray. Whereas they’re usually created by processes like radioactive decay, few astronomical occasions produce them in ample portions that they are often detected when the radiation originates in one other galaxy.

That mentioned, the record is bigger than one, which suggests detecting gamma rays does not imply we all know what occasion produced them. At decrease energies, they are often produced within the areas round black holes and by neutron stars. Supernovae may produce a sudden burst of gamma rays, as can the merger of compact objects like neutron stars.

After which there are magnetars. These are neutron stars that, not less than briefly, have excessive magnetic fields—over 1012 instances stronger than the Solar’s magnetic area. Magnetars can expertise flares and even big flares the place they ship out copious quantities of vitality, together with gamma rays. These could be tough to tell apart from gamma-ray bursts generated by the merger of compact objects, so the one confirmed magnetar big bursts have occurred in our personal galaxy or its satellites. Till now, apparently.

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