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Scientists Discover New Super-Magnetic Star

  A newly discovered star with an extremely strong magnetic field has caught the attention of scientists.  Located about 20,000 light-years from Earth, NGC1624-2 is the most magnetic massive star discovered by astronomers to date. NGC1624-2 has about 35 times the mass of our sun and possesses a magnetic field nearly 20,000 times stronger.  Because...

Artwork by Davis Meltzer

 

A newly discovered star with an extremely strong magnetic field has caught the attention of scientists.  Located about 20,000 light-years from Earth, NGC1624-2 is the most magnetic massive star discovered by astronomers to date.

NGC1624-2 has about 35 times the mass of our sun and possesses a magnetic field nearly 20,000 times stronger.  Because of its distance scientists have been monitoring it with a telescope at the University of Texas’ McDonald Observatory, and they have determined that NGC1624-2 rotates very slowly – about 160 Earth days for a complete rotation compared with just 25 days for the sun.

Although smaller stars with stronger magnetic fields have been found, this is the first time a magnetic field of this intensity has been observed around a massive star.  “Magnetic fields of this strength are extremely rare,” said astronomer Gregg Wade.  He and his colleagues have detailed their findings in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.  “To find such a strong field is very lucky.”

Why?  Because very little is understood about how magnetism affects the evolution of stars.  The more scientists learn about the subject, the better they can understand the structure of galaxies as a whole.

For all the latest science news, check out our twice-weekly news rundown, EarthCurrent.

 

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Alyson Foster
Alyson Foster works in the National Geographic Library where she purchases books for the Library’s collection and assists NG staff with finding research materials.