Aug 19, 2010
A neutron star with a mighty magnetic field has thrown down the gauntlet to theories about stellar evolution and the birth of black holes, astronomers said today.
The “magnetar” lies in a cluster of stars known as Westerlund 1, located 16,000 light years away in the constellation of Ara, the Altar.
Westerlund 1, discovered in 1961 by a Swedish astronomer, is a favoured observation site in stellar physics. It is one of the biggest cluster of superstars in the Milky Way, comprising hundreds of very massive stars, some shining with a brilliance of almost a million Suns and some two thousand times the Sun’s diameter.
The cluster is also, by the standards of the Universe, very young.
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