The findings, published Friday in the journal Science, were made by an international team led by GW physicist Oleg Kargaltsev. The team was studying a pulsar—a type of fast-spinning star that emits pulses of radiation and comprises the vast majority of neutron stars.
The pulsar, known as J1740+1000, is relatively young at 100,000 years old and had been considered “fairly unremarkable” among ordinary pulsars, the researchers wrote.
But using space-based cameras aboard NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the European Space Agency’s X-ray Multi-Mirror Mission—Newton, the team discovered abnormalities in the radiation emitted by the star.
The spectrum of radiation had characteristic dips, called absorption lines, previously seen only in “several strange, exotic neutron stars,” said Dr. Kargaltsev.
Until now, researchers thought the x-ray spectra of ordinary pulsars were “smooth and featureless,” he said. And the findings suggest that, among these stars, absorption lines could be much more common.