While studying the constellation named Serpens, roughly five billion light years away from Earth, with the help of the Fermi telescope, a gamma-ray pulsar was found in another galaxy.
The NASA Fermi Large Area Telescope is a specialized type of machinery specialized in seeking the subtle differences in gamma-ray radiation that occur through our Universe. It has helped in finding over 150 gamma-ray emitting pulsars since its launch in 2008. By studying these readings, astronomers can better understand the processes through which galaxies are created and how they function.
Galaxy PG 1553+113 is the first one of its kind found besides our own Milky Way, radiating gamma-rays on a cyclical basis of roughly two years. This small pulsar galaxy orbits our own galaxy on the outer rim of the Tarantula Nebula, one of the most complex star regions found in our vicinity.
When the gamma-ray emissions where first discovered, they were considered to be the after effects of several supernovas. But due to recent studies, they found that over 50% of emissions were created by the pulsar named PSR J0540-6919, discovery that surprised most scientists.
Pulsars are stars that went through a supernova, expanding fast when nearing the end of its life cycle, and then contracting in order to form a neutron star. This star is roughly the size of Washington DC but its mass is almost of half a million planets of our Earth’s size. Neutrons stars spin at an incredible rate and by doing so, they emit various radiation waves throughout the Universe. When these emissions hit our planet, we study them in order to further understand these types of occurrences.
Inside of the afore mentioned Tarantula Nebula reside large two pulsars, PSR J0540-6919 which spins around 20 times per second, and PSR J0537-6910 with the speed of 62 times per second, making it the fastest young pulsar to date.
Even though the new found pulsar, PSR J0540-6919, has around the same amount of optic, X-ray and radio emissions as the previous record holder, the Crab Nebula pulsar, its gamma-ray emissions surpass it greatly, having almost 20 times its intensity.
The discovery of the gamma-ray emitting pulsar came by accident while searching for the pulsar created by the supernova SN 1987A, the first recorded supernova since our civilization started using telescopes to study space. Unfortunately that pulsar still hasn’t been found till this date.
Even if a gamma-ray galaxy pulsar was found in another galaxy, further studies have to be made in order for the location of these emissions to be pin-pointed more accurately, studies that take roughly around six years to complete. The next pulsar cycles will be hitting Earth in 2017 and 2019 and scientists at NASA eagerly await their arrival.