Ultimately, our universe is far more diverse in its reality than humans tend to be in our theorizing. Over and over, we have found remarkable things just by turning a new instrument skyward. From the discovery of cold hydrogen gas in radio to the discovery of flashes of energy in gamma rays, the full expanse of the cosmic microwave background seems to be forever prepared to show us new things that surprise us.
According to a new paper from the HESS collaboration, researchers have detected the highest energy gamma-rays ever released by a pulsar while observing the Vela Pulsar.
This special kind of neutron star is rapidly rotating and, as we mentioned earlier, has a powerful magnetic field. Electrons caught in this magnetic field can get accelerated. All this energy ultimately can get released as light. Similar observations of the Crab pulsar had also detected extreme gamma-ray light, but the new detections of the Vela pulsar are an order of magnitude more energetic. In terms of color, they turned the blue dial to 11, and then just kept turning that dial until they defined something so extreme as to have never been seen from this kind of an object before.
I look forward to seeing more pulsar studies from this scope as researchers continue to explore the extremes of the electromagnetic spectrum.
reference: Discovery of a Radiation Component from the Vela Pulsar Reaching 20 Teraelectronvolts; The H.E.S.S. collaboration; Nature Astronomy, 2023; DOI: 10.1038/s41550-023-02052-3