Oddities of the universe – What is left after a Supernova?

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By Robert McLean


When you think of the universe you think of large spaces of nothing with stars, planets, moons and asteroids. But within the Universe there are things that defy what would be considered normal. Take the exploding supernova’s, where large stars burn out their fuel and get so hot they explode. After a supernova is where some of the more interesting things are created.

After a supernova, there is a release of the large quantity of matter, these usually form what we call nebula. The remnants of the star can then form different things. First of these is a large gravity well called a black hole, where the gravity is so strong that not even light can escape. Black holes were considered theory for a long time but now with radio telescopes, we are finding them. Black holes are not the evil things Sci-Fi makes them out to be. At the centre of the milky way is a super massive black hole that is responsible for the gravity that holds our galaxy together.

The next group of supernova remnants are the neutron stars. Neutron stars are where matter is so densely packed that the atoms of the star are so close that the heat generated is extreme, so even though the Neutron star could only be 12kms in diameter, the solar mass could be twice that of our sun.

Neutron stars are also broken up into different types, where you really get the oddballs of the universe. First of these is why a lot of nebula appear to glow. The pulsar is a neutron star that acts like a light house, where there is electromagnetic radiation blasted from the poles of the star. This in effect lights up the gas inside a nebula and makes for some of the best telescope viewing there is. Pulsars were found because they emit a radio signal, usually to a set beat. Due to the extremely fast rotation that some pulsars have been recorded at 15 rotations per second.

A Magnetar is a Neutron star with an extremely powerful Magnetic Field. It is believed that Magnetars are newly formed neutron stars that have recently formed after a supernova. If a Magnetar was to come anywhere near the earth all the credit cards could be wiped and even the molecules in the human body would be separated. Other types of Neutron Stars exist but most are still theoretical.

Even weirder still is that there are Pulsars in the universe that are in orbit around other Pulsars. Even planets have been found to be in orbit of Neutron stars. So next time you look up into the sky, think of all the strange things in the universe and now much we have still yet to learn.

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