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Thu Oct 10, 2019, 06:23 PM

Supermagnetic Stars May Form from Mergers

By Charles Q. Choi 12 hours ago

An artist's depiction of a magnetar.(Image: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center)

The most magnetic stars may have their origins in merging stars, a new study finds.

When it comes to relatively massive stars ones more than 1.5 times the mass of the sun previous research found that about 10% have strong magnetic fields that are on average 100 to 1,000 times stronger than the sun's. Other prior work has suggested that merged stars ones resulting from the fusion of two other stars could generate powerful magnetic fields, and that 10% of massive stars are predicted to result from mergers.

One reason merged stars are expected to possess strong magnetic fields is because, as one might expect, when two stars collide into one another, the result is a great deal of turbulence. Merged stars inherit such turbulence, and such "turbulent energy is converted into magnetic energy," said study lead author Fabian Schneider, an astrophysicist at the University of Heidelberg in Germany.

(A star or planet's magnetic field is powered by what's called its dynamo, which results from the swirling motion of an electrically conducting fluid. In the case of Earth, this fluid is molten iron within the planet's core; in the case of stars, this fluid is plasma, or clouds of electrically charged particles.)


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