Turkish scientists make key star orbit discovery

Scientists from METU and Baskent University discover glitch of binary pulsar while observing neutron star SXP 1062 for 3 years

Turkish scientists make key star orbit discovery


By Selma Kasap


Turkish scientists have found an orbital period of neutron star SXP 1062 after three years of observation, according to Prof. Dr. Altan Baykal.

A group of scientists from the Middle East Technical University (METU) and Baskent University in Turkey discovered the orbital period after noticing a big glitch of binary pulsar SXP 1062’s rotation, which normally takes 18 minutes, according to journal Monthly Notices of Royal Astronomical Society.

METU’s Prof. Dr. Altan Baykal told Anadolu Agency Monday that “in final stage of evolution, high-mass stars end their lives in huge explosions leaving a new celestial body behind.

“This celestial body could be in the form of a white dwarf, neutron star or black hole. If the celestial body left is a neutron star, it may have a very strong magnetic field”.

Neutron stars, which were observed for the first time in 1968, are approximately 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) in diameter and they have super liquid core beneath the shells that are thinner than a kilometer (mile), he said.

“We have carried out analysis on neutron star by using METU’s X-ray satellites’ archive data.”

He also said that after three years of observations, they discovered the orbital period of neutron star SXP 1062, which is a component of a binary star system.

“As a result of our studies, we have found that the neutron star’s orbital period is 656 days. We have seen a big glitch in the rotation period of the star in our timing analysis.”

“Glitches are usually seen in isolated pulsars, but we, for the first time, have observed a binary pulsar that shows the glitch,” Baykal said.

He also added: “X-ray-emitting binary stars have been observed by the satellites since 1973. For the first time since this date, as a group of scientists from METU, we have discovered a source’s glitch, in binary pulsar system, in its rotation period.

“This glitch is caused by interaction between intense material inside the star and its shell. We can think of it as earthquake, but when it happens inside a star, it causes a sudden change in the timing period.”

According to Baykal, scientists are seeking discoveries on neutron stars and the glitch was a mystery in the science world.

“Looking at how big the glitch is, we can say that the intense material inside the star affects the shell from the core. This huge change is caused by super liquid in the core of the star,” Baykal added.

Studies of the Turkish scientists were announced in the September issue of U.K.-based journal Monthly Notices of Royal Astronomical Society. The article in the journal was written by Prof. Dr. Altan Baykal, Dr. Seyda Sahiner, Muhammed Mirac Serim, Danjela Cerri-Serim from METU and Prof. Dr. Sitki Cagdas Inam from Baskent University who worked as a researcher in the study.

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