Astronomers are continuously uncovering mysterious objects in space that provide us with new insights into the nature of the universe. Recently, an unusual cosmic object was observed in a dense cloud of stars called NGC 1851, located 40,000 light-years away. […]
Astronomers are continuously uncovering mysterious objects in space that provide us with new insights into the nature of the universe. Recently, an unusual cosmic object was observed in a dense cloud of stars called NGC 1851, located 40,000 light-years away.
Thanks to the fast flares of a companion known as a pulsar, a rotating neutron star that emits beams of light every six milliseconds, this new entity has been discovered. This enigmatic object belongs to the category of objects that lie between a black hole and a neutron star.
Typically, black holes and neutron stars are remnants of massive stars after spectacular explosions known as supernovae. Although they form in a similar manner, these two types of objects can have significantly different masses. Supermassive black holes can weigh more than a billion Suns, while neutron stars rarely exceed three solar masses.
For a long time, scientists could only observe neutron stars weighing as much as two Suns and black holes as light as five Suns, leaving a substantial gap in our understanding of objects between these two categories. However, in 2019, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detected gravitational waves that indicated the existence of an object within this mass gap.
Using the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa, astronomers scanned NGC 1851 and observed a faint radio signal from the pulsar. By mapping the orbital movement of this object, they discovered that the pulsar is part of a binary system with an object weighing approximately 3.9 solar masses—an unknown form of mass between a black hole and a neutron star.
These findings open new doors for the study of dark matter and can provide valuable insights for testing existing theories about matter in the universe. Although the exact nature of this object is still unclear, whether it is the most massive neutron star, the lightest black hole, or something entirely new to science, further research will help us better understand these cosmic mysteries.