NASA shares image of moving vela pulsar captured by IXPE | Space
NASA has shared an image of the Vela pulsar wind nebula using imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer that shows faint a blue fuzzy line pointing to the upper side.
NASA has shared an image of the Vela pulsar wind nebula using imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE). In the image shared by the US space agency on its official website, a faint blue fuzzy line pointing to the upper right-hand corner is seen that corresponds to a jet of high-energy particles shooting out from the pulsar at nearly half the speed of light.
On its official website, the space agency also explained the significance of pink X-ray “arcs,” which are believed to mark the edges of “donut-shaped” regions where the pulsar wind shocks and accelerates high-energy particles. Notably, the pink and purple colours correspond to data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, while golden stars were captured by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
NASA shares image of vela pulsar
Through this image, NASA scientists have explained the unprecedented theory of how a cosmic object like a pulsar accelerates particles to high speeds. Phil Kaaret, who is the senior scientist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Centre in Huntsville, Alabama, said, “With IXPE, we are using extreme objects like Vela as a laboratory to investigate some of the most pressing questions in astrophysics, such as how particles get catapulted to near the speed of light long after a star has exploded.”
A recent study by scientists revealed the high degree of polarisation that was found in the X-rays of the Vela pulsar wind nebula. The proceedings of this study were published in the journal Nature in December.
“This is the highest degree of polarisation measured in a celestial X-ray source to date,” said Fei Xie, lead author of the Nature study, professor at Guangxi University in Nanning, Guangxi, China, and formerly a postdoctoral researcher at Italy’s National Institute for Astrophysics/Institute for Space Astrophysics and Planetology (INAF/IAPS) in Rome.
What is high polarisation?
According to scientists, high polarisation is a phenomenon where the electromagnetic fields remain in an organised manner; they are lined up in specific directions and depend on their position in the nebula. Also, the X-rays that IXPE detects come from high-energy electrons spiralling in the magnetic fields of the pulsar wind nebula, called “synchrotron emission.” Highly polarised X-rays mean that these magnetic fields, too, must be well organised. The high polarization of the X-rays “suggests that the electrons were not accelerated by the turbulent shocks that seem important in other X-ray sources,” said Roger W. Romani, a Stanford astrophysicist involved in the IXPE data analysis.