Space & Astronomy
Strongest known magnetic source discovered
By T.K. Randall
August 15, 2013 · 24 comments
Image Credit: NASA
Astronomers have identified what appears to be the most powerful magnetic field in the known universe.
The source is the core of a collapsed star which is located around 6,500 light years from the Earth. Packing the mass of the Sun in to an area measuring just 12 miles across, the object is producing a magnetic field that is so strong that it is the most powerful known magnetic source anywhere, the equivalent to about 20 trillion fridge magnets.
"Until very recently, all indications were that this magnetar had one of the weakest surface magnetic fields known," said study leader Dr Andrea Tiengo. "However, we suspected that SGR 0418 was in fact hiding a much stronger magnetic field, out of reach of our usual analytical techniques."
Astronomers estimate that it produces a magnetic field around 20 trillion times stronger than a standard refrigerator door magnet. The dead star is a kind of neutron star called a magnetar – the dead core of a once massive star that has collapsed in on itself.
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