Astronomers have detected a short flash of X-rays, the source of which may be a previously unknown magnetar in the Milky Way. Thus, the number of discovered space objects of this rare type can reach 25.
The flash was recorded June 3 near the galactic plane. Subsequent observations using NASA’s Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) and the Swift X-ray telescope have identified galactic coordinates of the source, and also revealed pulsations characteristic of a magnetar – a neutron star with a superstrong magnetic field (about a thousand times stronger than an ordinary neutron star). To date, 24 magnetars have been confirmed and six candidates are known.
Magnetars are considered to be possible sources of fast radio bursts (FRBs). One of the neutron stars in the Milky Way is capable of emitting powerful radio signals, which previously came from sources outside the galaxy. At the moment, the exact mechanism of FRB is unknown, but it is possible that this phenomenon is due to the tension of the outer layers of the star, arising from gravity and the magnetic field.