The astrophysicists have offered an outstanding instance of interstellar race against time by measuring the space-time warp in the binary star’s gravity and analysing the mass of a neutron star, just before it completely lost in the universe from view.
An international team of scientists measured the masses of both stars in the binary pulsar system, known as J1906, which is located about 25,000 light years from the Earth.
The binary pulsar spins as well as emits a beam of radio waves, just like lighthouse, in every 144 milliseconds. The pulsar orbits its companion star in a meager under four hours.
Ingrid Stairs, a professor of astronomy and physics at the University of British Columbia, said, “By precisely tracking the motion of the pulsar, we were able to measure the gravitational interaction between the two highly compact stars with extreme precision.”
“These two stars each weigh more than the Sun, but are still over 100 times closer together than the Earth is to the Sun. The resulting extreme gravity causes many remarkable effects,” Stairs added.
As per the general relativity concept, the neutron stars wobble in a similar way as a spinning top move through the gravitational well of a giant neighbouring companion star.
The pulsar travels through a curved space-time orbit after orbit, which influences the spin axis of the star.
“Through the effects of the immense mutual gravitational pull, the spin axis of the pulsar has now wobbled so much that the beams no longer hit Earth,” said Joeri van Leeuwen, an astrophysicist at Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy who led the study.
The mass of just a handful of double neutron stars have undergone under measurement and only J1906 came out as the youngest among all.
The study’s findings were detailed in the Astrophysical Journal.