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'Cosmic monster' erupted with the force of a billion suns

A flare from an erupting magnetar was detected releasing the energy equivalent of what the sun produces in one hundred millennia.

Published Wed, Jan 5 2022 5:00 AM CST

A new study examining this magnetar giant flare was published in Nature, described as a "true cosmic monster" by the study's co-author Victor Reglero.

'Cosmic monster' erupted with the force of a billion suns 01 |

The star, designated GRB2001415, is a magnetar, a kind of neutron star with a magnetic field a thousand times greater in strength than other neutron stars. Magnetars often erupt, spewing out energy and radiation in bright flares unpredictably, ending almost as soon as they begin.

GRB2001415 is found in the Sculptor Galaxy, a spiral galaxy located roughly 13 million light-years from Earth. It was detected by the Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM) instrument aboard the International Space Station (ISS) when it flared on April 15th, 2020.

"Even in an inactive state, magnetars can be 100,000 times more luminous than our sun. But in the case of the flash that we have studied - GRB2001415 - the energy that was released is equivalent to that which our sun radiates in 100,000 years," said Alberto J. Castro-Tirado of the Institute for Astrophysics of Andalucia at the Spanish Research Council.

GRB2001415 released this energy throughout a flare lasting 0.16 seconds before the signal detected by ASIM weakened to the point of being indistinguishable from background noise. Artificial intelligence in the ASIM pipeline detected the event, and the study's authors have spent over a year analyzing the two seconds worth of data collected.

You can read more from the study here.

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