Modelling extreme magnetic fields and temperature variation on distant stars

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IMAGE: The maps show the heat distribution. The bue regions are cooler – and the yellow regions are hotter.

It describes data taken from the following magentars: 4U 0142+61, 1E 1547.0-5408, XTE…
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Credit: University of Leeds

New research is helping to explain one of the big questions that has perplexed astrophysicists for the past 30 years – what causes the changing brightness of distant stars called magnetars.

Magnetars were formed from stellar explosions or supernovae and they have extremely strong magnetic fields, estimated to be around 100 million, million times greater than the magnetic field found on earth.

The magnetic field generates intense heat and x-rays. It is so strong it also affects the physical properties of matter, most notably the way that heat is conducted through the crust of the star and across its surface, creating the variations in brightness across the star which has puzzled

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