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Astronomers have found the brightest and youngest example yet of a fast-spinning star, suggesting that the extremely luminous versions of these super-dense objects may be far more common than thought. The spinning star, a millisecond pulsar called J1823-3021A, is located inside a packed conglomeration of stars called a globular cluster about 27,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Sagitarrius. The pulsar, which the researchers detected and studied using NASA’s Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope, emits incredibly intense high-energy gamma rays. New analysis suggests the pulsar is just 25 million years old. According to researchers the pulsar’s extreme brightness and youth challenge current ideas about how super-bright millisecond pulsars form and how widespread they may be.
Pulsar J1823-3021A is spinning at about 11,100 revolutions per minute, or one complete turn every 5.44 milliseconds. The team didn’t discover the pulsar, it has been known since the 1990s. But its incredible gamma-ray brightness remained undetected until now. J1823-3021A also appears to have a much stronger magnetic field than other millisecond pulsars.