I thought this article was rather interesting, Rare dead star found near Earth, so I asked Father Tyme to write about it for the blog since a lot of us are interested in the cosmos but didn't major in it in college. So he kindly obliged. From Father Tyme:
One of the really cool things about this universe is the number of ways we’ve escaped death, destruction, annihilation and just general bad times. Call it luck, fate, Divine intervention or whatever but it all boils down to the same thing; we’ve been lucky as hell – so far.
Astronomers discovered a new, rather unique neutron star. What makes this one different is that it emits virtually no visible light but massive amounts of X-Rays. (Makes them hard to find.) More interesting is its proximity to earth and position in the sky. Most neutron stars are scattered around the galactic plane like flying around the earth’s equator. This one is a bit of a maverick. It’s way up in our northern sky. Very unusual. How it got there is a mystery. It’s possible it had its orbit disturbed by something else or it’s just a fluke that we never noticed before. Regardless, it’s moving pretty quickly.
Here’s a link to one of the stories. The news picks up on these and parrots the original with virtually no explanation, just information.
You have to look hard to find any data on the star. Here’s some but it may be a little intense.
From the Astrophysical Journal (or so I’m told). Sort of a mouth full!“We report discovery of Calvera, a compact object at high Galactic latitude. We initially identified Calvera as a ROSAT All-Sky Survey Bright Source Catalog X-ray source, 1RXS J141256.0+792204, statistically likely to possess a high X-ray to optical flux ratio. Further observations using Swift, Gemini-North, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory refined the source position and confirmed the absence of any optical counterpart to an X-ray to optical flux ratio of FX(0.1-2.4 keV)/FV > 5100 (3 sigma). Interpretation of Calvera as a typical X-ray-dim isolated neutron star would place it at z~6.7 kpc above the Galactic disk -- in the Galactic halo -- implying that it either has an extreme space velocity (vz > 6700 km s-1) or has failed to cool according to theoretical predictions. Interpretations as a persistent anomalous X-ray pulsar, or a ``compact central object'' present conflicts with these classes' typical properties. We conclude the properties of Calvera are most consistent with those of a nearby (150 to 560 pc) radio pulsar, similar to the radio millisecond pulsars of 47 Tuc, with further observations required to confirm this classification. If it is a millisecond pulsar, it would be among the X-ray brightest millisecond pulsars, and only the third northern hemisphere millisecond pulsar at such close distance, making it an interesting target for X-ray study, a radio pulsar timing array, and LIGO.
There were previously seven of these special neutron stars discovered and for a long time, they were it, top of the heap, A-number one! The guys that used to spend time looking at the night sky in person and who now do it from the comfort of their office while flunkies freeze their prominences off actually have a sort of sense of humor. Since there were seven discovered of this unique type they were dubbed “The Magnificent Seven” (groan!)
Well ‘along comes Jones’ number 8. What to do? Let’s call it Calvera; the bad guy from the movie.
The problem with this guy is that he emits a lot more bad stuff but at least he’s far enough away to not cause a problem (about 250 to 1000 light years - or at least a couple of city blocks). If he were closer, say 100 light years, we’d all get free dental X-Rays, removed warts and probably mutations that could account for the Republicans. But we’re still lucky. He’s far enough away.
He’ll make for interesting study over the years. Maybe he’ll help us understand why stars have these nervous breakdowns and undergo catastrophic collapse. Then they continue their inward spiral toward becoming a black hole.
We have a lot of theories but the Xtian god hasn’t blessed us with the ability to go see these things first hand and it does seem as though HE’s doing everything to keep us from scientific discoveries; hence his creation of George Bush! My guess is we couldn’t handle the truth and HE never mentioned these in his novel.
Sooner or later our luck is going to run out. An asteroid that just finds us, a comet (or its brother) from outside the Oort Cloud comes back after 65 million years looking for stray dinosaurs, our sun gets a bug up its butt and fries us with a super radiating prominence, or the Martians really do hate us. (Well maybe they just hate the brown people so we’ll be fine!)
My best bet is on that dastardly group known as humans to extinguish life here on 4 billion or 6 thousand year old Terra.
Oh and the Night Boys just discovered a big, and I mean super big area of nothing! This nothing could be the absolute leftovers from a massive black hole that started out something like Calvera, and totally consumed an entire galaxy and swept the area clean of everything including dust, atoms and even dark matter and energy. The prognosis is still speculative but I’m betting it’s probably still hungry.
By Father Tyme