Timeline of neutron stars, pulsars, supernovae, and white dwarfs
Note that this list is mainly about the development of knowledge, but also about some supernovae taking place. For a separate list of the latter, see the article List of supernovae. All dates refer to when the supernova was observed on Earth or would have been observed on Earth had powerful enough telescopes existed at the time.
A neutron star is the collapsed core of a massive supergiant star, which had a total mass of between 10 and 25 solar masses, possibly more if the star was especially metal-rich. Except for black holes and some hypothetical objects, neutron stars are the smallest and densest currently known class of stellar objects. Neutron stars have a radius on the order of 10 kilometres (6 mi) and a mass of about 1.4 solar masses. They result from the supernova explosion of a massive star, combined with gravitational collapse, that compresses the core past white dwarf star density to that of atomic nuclei.
A supernova is a powerful and luminous explosion of a star. A supernova occurs during the last evolutionary stages of a massive star or when a white dwarf is triggered into runaway nuclear fusion. The original object, called the progenitor, either collapses to a neutron star or black hole, or is completely destroyed to form a diffuse nebula. The peak optical luminosity of a supernova can be comparable to that of an entire galaxy before fading over several weeks or months.
The Crab Nebula is a supernova remnant and pulsar wind nebula in the constellation of Taurus. The common name comes from William Parsons, 3rd Earl of Rosse, who observed the object in 1842 using a 36-inch (91 cm) telescope and produced a drawing that looked somewhat like a crab. The nebula was discovered by English astronomer John Bevis in 1731, and it corresponds with a bright supernova recorded by Chinese astronomers in 1054. The nebula was the first astronomical object identified that corresponds with a historical supernova explosion.
A pulsar is a highly magnetized rotating neutron star that emits beams of electromagnetic radiation out of its magnetic poles. This radiation can be observed only when a beam of emission is pointing toward Earth, and is responsible for the pulsed appearance of emission. Neutron stars are very dense and have short, regular rotational periods. This produces a very precise interval between pulses that ranges from milliseconds to seconds for an individual pulsar. Pulsars are one of the candidates for the source of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays.
The Crab Pulsar is a relatively young neutron star. The star is the central star in the Crab Nebula, a remnant of the supernova SN 1054, which was widely observed on Earth in the year 1054. Discovered in 1968, the pulsar was the first to be connected with a supernova remnant.
First observed between August 4 and August 6, 1181, Chinese and Japanese astronomers recorded the supernova now known as SN 1181 in eight separate texts. One of only nine supernovae in the Milky Way observable with the naked eye in recorded history, it appeared in the constellation Cassiopeia and was visible in the night sky for about 185 days.
PSR J0737−3039 is the first known double pulsar. It consists of two neutron stars emitting electromagnetic waves in the radio wavelength in a relativistic binary system. The two pulsars are known as PSR J0737−3039A and PSR J0737−3039B. It was discovered in 2003 at Australia's Parkes Observatory by an international team led by the Italian radio astronomer Marta Burgay during a high-latitude pulsar survey.
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to astronomy:
A Type Ia supernova is a type of supernova that occurs in binary systems in which one of the stars is a white dwarf. The other star can be anything from a giant star to an even smaller white dwarf.
A binary pulsar is a pulsar with a binary companion, often a white dwarf or neutron star. Binary pulsars are one of the few objects which allow physicists to test general relativity because of the strong gravitational fields in their vicinities. Although the binary companion to the pulsar is usually difficult or impossible to observe directly, its presence can be deduced from the timing of the pulses from the pulsar itself, which can be measured with extraordinary accuracy by radio telescopes.
The Vela Pulsar is a radio, optical, X-ray- and gamma-emitting pulsar associated with the Vela Supernova Remnant in the constellation of Vela. Its parent Type II supernova exploded approximately 11,000–12,300 years ago.
The known history of supernova observation goes back to 1006 CE. All earlier proposals for supernova observations are speculations with many alternatives.
Gamma-ray burst progenitors are the types of celestial objects that can emit gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). GRBs show an extraordinary degree of diversity. They can last anywhere from a fraction of a second to many minutes. Bursts could have a single profile or oscillate wildly up and down in intensity, and their spectra are highly variable unlike other objects in space. The near complete lack of observational constraint led to a profusion of theories, including evaporating black holes, magnetic flares on white dwarfs, accretion of matter onto neutron stars, antimatter accretion, supernovae, hypernovae, and rapid extraction of rotational energy from supermassive black holes, among others.
SN 1979C was a supernova about 50 million light-years away in Messier 100, a spiral galaxy in the constellation Coma Berenices. The Type II supernova was discovered April 19, 1979 by Gus Johnson, a school teacher and amateur astronomer. This type of supernova is known as a core collapse and is the result of the internal collapse and violent explosion of a large star. A star must have at least 9 times the mass of the Sun in order to undergo this type of collapse. The star that resulted in this supernova was estimated to be in the range of 20 solar masses.
Astrophysical X-ray sources are astronomical objects with physical properties which result in the emission of X-rays.
PSR J1614–2230 is a pulsar in a binary system with a white dwarf in the constellation Scorpius. It was discovered in 2006 with the Parkes telescope in a survey of unidentified gamma ray sources in the Energetic Gamma Ray Experiment Telescope catalog. PSR J1614–2230 is a millisecond pulsar, a type of neutron star, that spins on its axis roughly 317 times per second, corresponding to a period of 3.15 milliseconds. Like all pulsars, it emits radiation in a beam, similar to a lighthouse. Emission from PSR J1614–2230 is observed as pulses at the spin period of PSR J1614–2230. The pulsed nature of its emission allows for the arrival of individual pulses to be timed. By measuring the arrival time of pulses, astronomers observed the delay of pulse arrivals from PSR J1614–2230 when it was passing behind its companion from the vantage point of Earth. By measuring this delay, known as the Shapiro delay, astronomers determined the mass of PSR J1614–2230 and its companion. The team performing the observations found that the mass of PSR J1614–2230 is 1.97 ± 0.04 M☉. This mass made PSR J1614–2230 the most massive known neutron star at the time of discovery, and rules out many neutron star equations of state that include exotic matter such as hyperons and kaon condensates.
A stellar collision is the coming together of two stars caused by stellar dynamics within a star cluster, or by the orbital decay of a binary star due to stellar mass loss or gravitational radiation, or by other mechanisms not yet well understood.
A neutron star merger is a type of stellar collision.
PSR J0348+0432 is a pulsar–white dwarf binary system in the constellation Taurus. It was discovered in 2007 with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in a drift-scan survey.
A kilonova is a transient astronomical event that occurs in a compact binary system when two neutron stars or a neutron star and a black hole merge. These mergers are thought to produce gamma-ray bursts and emit bright electromagnetic radiation, called "kilonovae", due to the radioactive decay of heavy r-process nuclei that are produced and ejected fairly isotropically during the merger process. The measured high sphericity of the kilonova AT2017gfo at early epochs was deduced from the blackbody nature of its spectrum.