View Full Version : Discussion: Hot Spots Seen on Neutron Stars

2005-Apr-25, 05:09 PM
SUMMARY: Astronomers have seen high temperature "hotspots" rotating across the surface of three nearby neutron stars using the ESA's XMM-Newton X-ray telescope. Even though these neutron stars are hundreds of light-years away, astronomers can calculate the size of the hotspots down to dozens of metres - some are the size of a football field, and others the size of a golf course. The hotspots are somehow related to the stars' powerful magnetic fields, but the exact mechanism is still a mystery.

View full article (http://www.universetoday.com/am/publish/hot_spots_neutron_stars.html)

What do you think about this story? Post your comments below.

2005-Apr-25, 07:02 PM
I thought it was the hot spots on fast spinning neutron stars that caused the pulsars phenomenon. Is this different, as in hot spots that are not correlated to radio emission flashes that we first took notice of some 30-ish years ago?

2005-Apr-25, 07:28 PM
This is great news.

Hot spots rotating across the surfaces may help elucidate the energy source of neutron stars.

With kind regards,


2005-Apr-25, 07:38 PM
This is an odd story in that it claims that this is the first time we've observed the hot spots, but it is not. This was an indirect observation, and the hot spots have been observed previously using other indirect observations. My point is that the science here is great, but the jounalist is trying to make the story contain words like "first" and "new", because words like "better", "reinforce", and "refine" just aren't as exciting.

There is a lot to learn by the study of these nearby isolated neutron stars, and I look forward to us learning yet more.

2005-Apr-26, 02:32 PM
Antoniseb: Well said! S

2005-Apr-26, 04:22 PM
Yep Antonise, indeed I think they've got some info on these before it was maybe the Astrophysics Institute of the CNR or Italian National Research space Group who were using X-ray detectors and had a look at a hot spot on another neutron star, the hot spot comparable to the size of a football field
the ESA Italian scientists had spotted this other hot-spot from one of the neutron stars that is nearest to us, these observations were sometime around 2002-2003.

2005-Apr-27, 02:49 PM
why then are the hot spots observed in the three cases so different in size, why then are the hot spots observed in the three cases so different in size, ranging from 60 metres to one kilometre ?* These surface dimensions of the Neutron star must be of extremely short time duration with respect to the observing instrument. Are they really that good? I notice 2 are pulsars and one is not, is this due to orientation with respect to Earth line-of-sight? Perhaps each neutron star is a pulsar. Orientation may be the major contributor to the observed differences in hot spot radiation.