Magnetars — mysterious and dangerous

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We continue to answer subscribers’ questions:

Magnetar is a neutron star that has an extremely strong magnetic field (up to 100 billion T), 11 such objects are currently known. They are formed from massive stars with an initial mass of more than 40 times the mass of the sun. When such a star dies, it sheds the outer layers of matter, leaving a bare core — a neutron star.

Magnetars have a diameter of about 20-30 km, and their mass can be several times greater than that of the sun. This is due to the very high density of neutron stars, as a teaspoon of magnetar matter has a mass of more than 100 million tons.

When a star ejects its shell, its core — the magnetar — spins up strongly and can make several tens of revolutions per second, which is why it has such a strong magnetic field. The life cycle of a magnetar is approximately 10 thousand years, during which it emits X-rays and gamma rays, after which its activity stops and it becomes an ordinary neutron star.

Magnetars affect objects gravitationally in the same way as ordinary stars. But their magnetic field accelerates the particles that fall into it to tremendous speeds, which creates X-ray radiation. It is capable of burning out all living things in its path, at a distance of several light years, but this does not significantly affect inanimate objects.