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posted by janrinok on Thursday June 23 2022, @06:25AM   Printer-friendly
from the do-you-know-how-fast-you-were-going? dept.

Chandra Press Room :: NASA's Chandra Catches Pulsar in X-ray Speed Trap :: 15 June 2022:

NASA's Chandra Catches Pulsar in X-ray Speed Trap

A young pulsar is blazing through the Milky Way at a speed of over a million miles per hour. This stellar speedster, witnessed by NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, is one of the fastest objects of its kind ever seen. This result teaches astronomers more about how some of the bigger stars end their lives.

Pulsars are rapidly spinning neutron stars that are formed when some massive stars run out of fuel, collapse, and explode. This pulsar is racing through the remains of the supernova explosion that created it, called G292.0+1.8, located about 20,000 light-years from Earth.

"We directly saw motion of the pulsar in X-rays, something we could only do with Chandra's very sharp vision," said Xi Long of the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (CfA), who led the study. "Because it is so distant, we had to measure the equivalent of the width of a quarter about 15 miles away to see this motion."

To make this discovery, the researchers compared Chandra images of G292.0+1.8 taken in 2006 and 2016. From the change in position of the pulsar over the 10-year span, they calculated it is moving at least 1.4 million miles per hour from the center of the supernova remnant to the lower left. This speed is about 30% higher than a previous estimate of the pulsar's speed that was based on an indirect method, by measuring how far the pulsar is from the center of the explosion.

The newly determined speed of the pulsar indicates that G292.0+1.8 and its pulsar may be significantly younger than astronomers previously thought. Xi and his team estimate that G292.0+1.8 would have exploded about 2,000 years ago as seen from Earth, rather than 3,000 years ago as previously calculated. Several civilizations around the globe were recording supernova explosions at that time, opening up the possibility that G292.0+1.8 was directly observed.

"We only have a handful of supernova explosions that also have a reliable historical record tied to them," said co-author Daniel Patnaude, also of the CfA, "so we wanted to check if G292.0+1.8 could be added to this group."

However, G292.0+1.8 is below the horizon for most Northern Hemisphere civilizations that might have observed it, and there are no recorded examples of a supernova being observed in the Southern Hemisphere in the direction of G292.0+1.8.

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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 23 2022, @08:47AM (5 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 23 2022, @08:47AM (#1255544)

    I know that the news are made to be read for the layman, yet I wonder why still in 2022 scientific news are reported with "miles per hour". Not trolling, but really, building awareness about of what is the correct and standard way to deal with science has to begin at some point. It is ridiculous the often answer to this, as in "do not be lazy and convert it". No, report and exchange the information in what has been agreed upon to be the standard. Then if anyone would want to measure in furlongs, sure thing, do that locally.

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by FatPhil on Thursday June 23 2022, @10:01AM

      by FatPhil (863) <{pc-soylent} {at} {}> on Thursday June 23 2022, @10:01AM (#1255550) Homepage
      What's even worse is that in the article there was juxtaposition of a speed given in terms of the speed of light, and a one given in terms of miles per hour. Heck, I'm astronomy literate, and even I didn't have a feeling for quite how much bigger the former was to the latter. Or smaller!

      If this thing's going at anything over about .1% of the speed of light, maybe even less, it's perfectly acceptable to just give all speeds in those terms. The assumption should be in scientific articles that your readership is at least (desiring to become) numerate. They shouldn't need to be autist savant calculating machines. Sure, follow up with someting to express the magnitude in terms of things we can touch and feel and measure for explication, but always have useful concrete scientific numbers for the concrete scientific facts you're intending to convey. (E.g. "that's so fast, the moon's orbit round earth would be completed in X seconds", or "... the earth's orbit round the sun ...", etc.)

      So I'm more pissed off that there were mixed units than non-SI ones. 1.000*c isn't SI, and I'm happy specifying that neutrinos travel at 1.000c, for example.
      Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 23 2022, @01:21PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 23 2022, @01:21PM (#1255573)

      An aproximate calculation is not that hard to do off the cuff in this case:

      1,000,000 miles/hr
      Use .6 miles to 1 km

      so 1,600,000 km/hr by just popping the 6 in front of the 1
                24,000 km/min by dropping 2 zeros and putting back half 16,000 + 8,000
                  360 km/s by dropping 2 zeros and putting back half 240 + 120
        or 360,000 m/s

      so 100th the speed of light.

      What I had issue with was the, 30,000 light years
      "Because it is so distant, we had to measure..."
      30,000 light years in comparison to the rest of the Universe is basically,
      in our back yard.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 23 2022, @02:14PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 23 2022, @02:14PM (#1255583)

        I still preffer just moving the decimal point to and fro, vs all this 6-ball magikz.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 23 2022, @02:24PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 23 2022, @02:24PM (#1255584)

          so the magik was right, just drop everything off the 1 and add a % char?

          so likewise it would take 3m years to get here if it were pointed this way, but likely much harder to spot given the pic shows shooting across the bow as it were.

    • (Score: 2) by bzipitidoo on Thursday June 23 2022, @05:02PM

      by bzipitidoo (4388) Subscriber Badge on Thursday June 23 2022, @05:02PM (#1255621) Journal

      Pulsars are so packed with energy the grams of sugar per ounce must be off the charts!