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HomeScientiFixNASA discovers 240-year-old 'newborn' neutron star that's twice the sun's mass

NASA discovers 240-year-old ‘newborn’ neutron star that’s twice the sun’s mass

ScientiFix, our weekly feature, offers you a summary of the top global science stories of the week, with links to their sources.

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Youngest neutron star is 1 trillion times smaller than the sun

Scientists at NASA and the European Space Agency have discovered the youngest neutron star of its kind, a 240-year-old cosmic newborn located 16,000 light years away. That would mean that the light from the stellar explosion that led to the formation of this magnetar would have reached the Earth around 1789.

A neutron star is made up of densely packed stellar material left over after a massive star explodes. The newly discovered object, named Swift J1818.0-1607, packs twice the mass of the Sun into a volume more than one trillion times smaller. Most neutron stars are several billion years old.

Swift J1818.0-1607 belongs to a special class of objects called magnetars, which have the strongest magnetic properties in the universe. This is the youngest magnetar ever discovered. More on Independent.

Mysterious, repeating radio bursts detected

Astronomers have discovered a mysterious, repeating rhythm of fast radio bursts originating from an unknown source over 500 million light years outside our galaxy.

Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are short, intense flashes of radio waves that typically last a few milliseconds. More than 100 fast radio bursts from distant sources have been catalogued since 2007, but their sources have been a mystery. Usually, these FRBs flash briefly before disappearing entirely. In some instances, astronomers observed bursts multiple times from the same source, but with no discernible pattern.

The latest source, which the team has catalogued as FRB 180916.J0158+65, is the first to produce a periodic, or cyclical pattern of FRBs. The pattern begins with a four-day window during which the source emits random bursts of radio waves, followed by a 12-day period of radio silence. This 16-day pattern repeated consistently over 500 days of observations. More on Space.

Scientists find why Antarctica sea ice declined drastically in five years

A section of Antarctica has lost 1 million sq kms of its ice in the last five years, scientists have found.

For a study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, researchers looked at satellite records of sea ice extent and weather analyses starting in the late 1970s to understand why summer sea ice in the Weddell Sea area of Antarctica has reduced by a third over the last five years.

They found that a series of severe storms in the Antarctic summer of 2016-17 may have led to this rapid decline. Along with this, a large area of open water within the sea ice had developed in the Wendell Sea area during the winter of 2016 for the first time since the mid-1970s. This was created by the strong winds associated with the storms and unprecedented warm ocean conditions. More on the New York Times.

Coal burning triggered mass extinction event 252 million years ago

A team of researchers from the US have provided the first-ever direct evidence that extensive coal burning in Siberia caused the Earth’s most severe mass extinction event about 252 million years ago.

For the study, the team focused on rocks created by explosive volcanic eruptions in Russia, formed during one of the largest known volcanic events in the last 500 million years. The eruptions continued for around 2 million years.

Up to 96 per cent of all marine species and 70 per cent of terrestrial vertebrate species became extinct during this event. And when the extinction was peaking, Earth underwent global warming. It took several millions years for ecosystems to be re-established and for species to recover.

The team found evidence of burnt coal in the region. Researchers said that the extinction event bears similarities to what is happening on Earth today. More on SciTechDaily.

Fossil of the world’s largest soft-shelled egg discovered

A mysterious fossil in Antarctica, that looks like a deflated football, has finally been identified to be a soft-shell egg from about 66 million years ago, almost a decade after it was first discovered. Measuring more than 11 by 7 inches, the egg is the largest soft-shell egg ever discovered, and the second-largest egg of any known animal.

The specimen is the first fossil egg found in Antarctica. Researchers believe that it was laid by an extinct, giant marine reptile called a mosasaur. It was earlier thought that such creatures did not lay eggs. More on Live Science.


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