According to NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory, an explosion in space may have created not only a brilliant nebula, but also a rapidly rotating neutron star.
Observations of the Medusa Nebula and the supernova remnant 5,000 light-years from Earth showed an unusual object located on the southern edge of the nebula. Scientists called the object CXOU J061705.3 + 222127 or J0617 for short, and they believe that this star power plant, known as pulsar.
When a massive star explodes, the outer layers of the star collapse inward, exploding a supernova and leaving behind a dense core called a neutron star. The neutron star becomes a “pulsar” when it begins to rotate rapidly and emit light like a beacon.
In a new presentation from Chandra, a ring is surrounded by a suspected pulsar through which a stream-like structure passes. Scientists believe that the ring indicates a region in the nebula, where a high wind speed from particles emanating from a pulsar slows down dramatically, or a shock wave that is similar to a sound roar is in front of the wind. In the same way, a jet can be a stream of particles flying away from a pulsar in a narrow beam at high speed. The amount of x-rays around the object provides additional evidence that this is, in fact, a pulsar. An official from NASA said that the amount of X-rays at different wavelengths, as well as how the radiation propagates around the object, corresponds to the behavior of known pulsars.
Some doubts exist, however, they concern whether the pulsar was in the Medusa's nebula or is it just an unrelated neighbor to Medusa. The comet-like tail of a pulsar from X-ray emissions is directed 50 degrees from what one would expect from a pulsar that leaves the center of the supernova remnant in a straight line. However, scientists say this can be explained by the movement of material in a nebula, which can change the direction of the cometary tail.
Researchers remain uncertain about the true age of the Medusa Nebula. While this study suggests that it is about 30,000 years old, other scientists believe that it is only 3,000 years old.