The polarisation of light emitted by a neutron star

This artist’s view shows how the light coming from the surface of a strongly magnetic neutron star (left) becomes linearly polarised as it travels through the vacuum of space close to the star on its way to the observer on Earth (right). The polarisation of the observed light in the extremely strong magnetic field suggests that the empty space around the neutron star is subject to a quantum effect known as vacuum birefringence, a prediction of quantum electrodynamics (QED). This effect was predicted in the 1930s but has not been observed before.

The magnetic and electric field directions of the light rays are shown by the red and blue lines. Model simulations by Roberto Taverna (University of Padua, Italy) and Denis Gonzalez Caniulef (UCL/MSSL, UK) show how these align along a preferred direction as the light passes through the region around the neutron star. As they become aligned the light becomes polarised, and this polarisation can be detected by sensitive instruments on Earth.

Oikeudet:

ESO/L. Calçada

Kuvasta

Tunnistus:eso1641a
Tyyppi:Kuvitus
Julkaisupäivä:30. marraskuuta 2016 12:00
Vastaavat julkaisut:eso1641
Koko:6000 x 3534 px

Kohteesta

Tyyppi:Milky Way : Star : Evolutionary Stage : Neutron Star
Kategoria:Stars

Kuvaformaatit

Suuri JPEG
1,8 MB
Kokoruudun JPEG
90,0 KB

Zoomattavissa


Taustakuvat

1024x768
124,4 KB
1280x1024
175,1 KB
1600x1200
233,9 KB
1920x1200
264,2 KB
2048x1536
342,1 KB

 

Katso myös