The Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia [Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía] CSIC (ES) via Manu Garcia- a friend from IAC-Institute of Astrophysics of the Canaries[Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias](ES): “Distinct pulses captured in the giant magnetic flare from a neutron star”

The Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia [Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía] CSIC (ES)


Manu Garcia- a friend from IAC-Institute of Astrophysics of the Canaries[Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias](ES).

The universe around us.
Astronomy, everything you wanted to know about our local universe and never dared to ask.

22/12/2021 [Just today in social media.]

Among the neutron stars, objects that can contain half a million times the mass of the Earth in a diameter of about twenty kilometres, a small group with the strongest known magnetic field stands out: the magnetars. These objects, of which only thirty are known, undergo violent eruptions that are still poorly understood due to their unexpected nature and their short duration of only a few tenths of a second. A scientific group led by the Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia (IAA-CSIC) publishes today in the journal Nature the study of an eruption in detail: they have managed to measure different oscillations, or pulses, in its brightness during the moments of highest energy, which are a crucial component to understand the giant flares of magnetars.

Even in an inactive state, magnetars can be a hundred thousand times more luminous than our Sun”, says Alberto J. Castro-Tirado, IAA-CSIC researcher who leads the study. But in the case of the flash we have studied, GRB200415, which occurred on 15 April 2020 and lasted only about a tenth of a second, the energy released is equivalent to the energy radiated by our Sun in a hundred thousand years. The observations revealed multiple pulses, with the first pulse appearing only around tens of microseconds, much faster than other extreme transients.

Eruptions in magnetars are thought to be due to instabilities in their magnetosphere or to a kind of “earthquake” in their crust, a rigid, elastic layer about a kilometre thick. “Regardless of the trigger, a type of waves will be created in the star’s magnetosphere, the Alfvén waves, which are well known in the Sun and which, while bouncing back and forth between the points at the base of its magnetic field lines, interact with each other and dissipate energy”, says Alberto J. Castro-Tirado (IAA-CSIC).

Artistic concept of a magnetar. Fuente: BCSS/Mt. Visual

The oscillations detected in the eruption are consistent with the emission produced by the interaction between Alfvén waves, whose energy is rapidly absorbed by the crust. Thus, in a few milliseconds the magnetic reconnection process ends and, therefore, so do the pulses detected in GRB200415, which disappeared 3.5 milliseconds after the main outburst. Analysis of the phenomenon has allowed us to estimate that the volume of the flare was similar to or even larger than that of the neutron star itself.

The flare was detected by the ASIM instrument on board the International Space Station, which was the only one out of seven that was able to record the main phase of the flare in its full energy range without saturation.

The ASIM Mission on the International Space Station. Credit: The European Space Agency [Agence spatiale européenne][Europäische Weltraumorganisation](EU).

The science team was able to resolve the temporal structure of the event, a truly complex task that involved more than a year of analysis for one second of data.

“The detection of quasi-periodic oscillations in GRB200415 has been challenging from a signal analysis point of view. The difficulty lies in the shortness of the signal, whose amplitude decays rapidly and is embedded in the background noise. And, being correlated noise, it is difficult to distinguish the signal from the noise. We owe this achievement to the sophisticated data analysis techniques that have been applied independently by the different members of the team, but it is also undoubtedly a technological achievement due to the excellent quality of the data provided by the ASIM instrument on board the International Space Station”, says Javier Pascual, a researcher at IAA-CSIC who participated in the work.

Castro-Tirado et al. Very-high-frequency oscillations in the main peak of a magnetar giant flare.

These flares had been detected in two of the thirty known magnetars in our galaxy, the Milky Way, but also in two others located in other galaxies. GRB2001415 would be the most distant magnetar flare captured to date, being located in the Sculptor group of galaxies about thirteen million light-years away.

“This flare has provided a crucial component in understanding how magnetic stresses are produced in and around a neutron star. Continuous monitoring of magnetars in nearby galaxies will help to understand this phenomenon, and will also pave the way to learn more about fast radio bursts, currently one of the most enigmatic phenomena in astronomy,” concludes Alberto J. Castro-Tirado (IAA-CSIC).

The work also involves researchers from The University of Valencia [Universitat de València](ES),The University of Cádiz [Universidad de Cádiz](ES) and The University of Malaga [Universidad de Malaga](ES), using data from the BOOTES robotic telescope network (led by Castro-Tirado) and the Gran Telescopio Canarias.
Gran Telescopio Canarias at the Roque de los Muchachos Observatory on the island of La Palma, in the Canaries (ES)

See the full article here .


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Welcome to the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (IAA). The IAA is an institute of The Spanish National Research Council[Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC) (ES). The activities of the IAA (CSIC) are related to research in the field of Astrophysics and the development of instruments for telescopes and space vehicles. These webpages are intended to present our activities as well as useful information both for other professional institutions devoted to astrophysics research as well as for those interested in learning something more about the IAA and astrophysics in general.

From the front page on, an explanation is provided of the structure and organization of the IAA, followed by general information concerning our technological and scientific research in addition to all the activities we consider of general interest.

The pages of each department provide basic information: the staff, research lines, projects under way and research results. The navigator will also find more specific and varied information on each of the individual pages of the IAA staff.

The IAA has as its general scientific objective to help increase the bulk of knowledge about our universe, from the closest at hand, our solar system, to an overall scale of the entire universe, improving descriptions and analysing the physical processes that take place there. The nature of this aim demands a multi-disciplinary approach, requiring a combination of theory, observation and technology in different areas of physics and engineering. Although the IAA is a centre for pursuing basic science, we are aware of the role that astrophysics plays as a user and producer of new technologies.

To achieve our overarching objective, different scientific programmes are being undertaken with specific aims and timetables, encompassing four large areas of astrophysics: the solar system; star formation, structure and evolution; galaxy structure and evolution; and cosmology. Basic science has been and continues to be the motor for training scientific and technical staff, as well as for stimulating the development of other disciplines. The history of the IAA clearly depicts the observational function of the centre.

The telescopes installed in the Observatorio de Sierra Nevada (OSN), reflect a scientific policy with the clear objective of ensuring continued access to observational means to undertake far-reaching scientific projects.

IAA Observatorio de Sierra Nevada

This fact adds singularity to the centre and at the same time offers the challenge and incentive for research at the IAA. The design and construction of instruments for the OSN, as well as others to be carried in special space vehicles, not only serve as support for basic research by the different teams of the IAA, but also represent activity of prime importance for the appropriate combination of research and development.

The Institute of Astrophysics of Andalusia [Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía, IAA-CSIC] is a research institute funded by the High Council of Scientific Research of the Spanish government Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), and is located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. IAA activities are related to research in the field of astrophysics, and instrument development both for ground-based telescopes and for space missions. Scientific research at the Institute covers the solar system, star formation, stellar structure and evolution, galaxy formation and evolution and cosmology. The IAA was created as a CSIC research institute in July 1975. Presently, the IAA operates the Sierra Nevada Observatory, and (jointly with the also the The MPG Institute for Astronomy [MPG Institut für Astronomie](DE)) the Calar Alto Observatory.

Calar Alto Astronomical Observatory 3.5 meter Telescope, located in Almería province in Spain on Calar Alto, a 2,168-meter-high (7,113 ft) mountain in Sierra de Los Filabres(ES)
The Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía is divided in the following departments, each with an (incomplete) outline of research avenues and groups:

Department of Extragalactic Astronomy
Violent Stellar Formation Group
AMIGA Group (Analysis of the interstellar Medium of Isolated Galaxies)
Department of Stellar Physics
Department of Radio Astronomy and Galactic Structure
Stellar Systems Group
Department of Solar System

The technological needs of IAA’s research groups are fulfilled by the Instrumental and Technological Developments Unit