2019 December 18

A Hotspot Map of Neutron Star J0030’s Surface
Image Credit:
NASA, NICER, GSFC’s CI Lab

Explanation: What do neutron stars look like? Previously these city-sized stars were too small and too far away to resolve. Recently, however, the first maps of the locations and sizes of hotspots on a neutron star’s surface have been made by carefully modeling how the rapid spin makes the star’s X-ray brightness rise and fall. Based on a leading model, an illustrative map of pulsar J0030+0451’s hotspots is pictured, with the rest of the star’s surface filled in with a false patchy blue. J0030 spins once every 0.0049 seconds and is located about 1000 light years away. The map was computed from data taken by NASA’s Neutron star Interior Composition ExploreR (NICER) X-ray telescope attached to the International Space Station. The computed locations of these hotspots is surprising and not well understood. Because the gravitational lensing effect of neutron stars is so strong, J0300 displays more than half of its surface toward the Earth. Studying the appearance of pulsars like J0030 allows accurate estimates of the neutron star’s mass, radius, and the internal physics that keeps the star from imploding into a black hole.

中子星J0030表面的热点图
影像来源:
NASA, NICER, GSFC’s CI Lab

说明:中子星是什么样子的?以前,由于这些城市大小的恒星太小且距离太远,所以无法分辨。然而,最近,我们通过详细模拟快速旋转如何使恒星的X射线亮度上升和下降的效应,绘制出第一幅呈现中子星表面热点位置和大小的示意图。这幅影像是脉冲星J0030+0451的热点示意图,其余的恒星表面填充了一种假斑蓝色。J0030距离我们约1000光年远,每隔0.0049秒旋转一次。这幅示意图是美国宇航局(NASA)在国际空间站安装的中子星内部合成探测器(NICER)X射线望远镜所获得的数据估算结果绘制而成的。这些热点的估算位置令人惊讶,而且很难理解。由于中子星的引力透镜效应非常强,J0300一半以上的表面都朝向地球。研究像J0030这样的脉冲星可以精确估计中子星的质量、半径和内部物理特性,防止中子星内爆进入黑洞。

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