Image of the Week
For the first Year In Space newsletter of 2020, we're taking a look at an exotic object known as a magnetar. Read more about this extreme subclass of stars below or here, then watch this short video that does a good job of explaining why magnetars are so bizarre. You can download higher resolution versions of this week's image here, and then see a multi-wavelength view here that combines X-ray data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory and infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope.
The Sky this Week
This week the Moon is prominent in the evening sky, becoming full on Friday. Venus is a bright "star" in the western sky at sunset, while Mars lights up the predawn eastern sky alongside russet-hued Antares. For a more detailed preview of what the night sky has to offer in January, take a look at two short videos: Tonight's Sky gives a good overview of the stars and constellation you can see this time of the year, while What's Up covers the planetary, lunar, and stellar highlights of January.
Final Reminder for the 2020 Year In Space Calendars
I'd like to thank everyone who supported The Year in Space by purchasing the calendars that I publish. Your support allows me to keep publishing this free weekly newsletter, and hopefully it provides you with a fun and educational space calendar that you can enjoy all year. If you haven't ordered one yet, please consider doing so soon. You can still save 25% (even though the year is only 1% over!) and pay only $14.95 or less per copy. Calendars currently ship only to US addresses.
This will be the final newsletter reminder that I'm sending out for the 2020 calendars, so don't wait any longer. Thanks again for your support!
A Magnetar is Born Some 160,000 light-years away in the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), a companion galaxy of our own Milky Way, a delicate nebula harbors a rare star with a very magnetic personality. Known as N 49, this nebula is a remnant of a massive star that died thousands of years ago. This filamentary material will eventually be recycled into building new generations of stars in the LMC, much as our own Sun and planets are composed of debris of supernovae that exploded in the Milky Way billions of years ago. At the heart of N 49 is a massive spinning neutron star (also called a pulsar), a common result of a supernova explosion. But N 49 also has a magnetic field a thousand trillion times stronger than Earth’s magnetic field, placing the star into an exclusive class of objects called magnetars.
Image credit: NASA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI / AURA)