Top Ten Space Pictures of 2007

Top Ten Space Photos of 2007
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5. Magnetar Explosion
(originally posted September 21, 2007)

A rare celestial body known as a magnetar shimmers in an explosion of x-rays in an artist's depiction.

The unusual object, about 15,000 light-years away in the constellation Sagittarius, is a small, fast-spinning neutron star that periodically shoots out huge cataclysms of x-ray emissions.

A study released by the European Space Agency in September found that an outburst of radiation detected from the star in 2003 came from a spot below the star's surface only 2 miles (3.5 kilometers) across.

The magnetar is only about 9 miles (15 kilometers) across in total but contains about as much mass as the sun.

The study, conducted with ESA's XXM-Newton orbiting telescope, also found that the star has one of the most powerful magnetic fields in the universe600 trillion times that of Earth's.

Aalok Mehta

See the full Week in Photos gallery that included this image.

(Top space pictures determined by number of times viewed.)

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—Image by NASA/Swift/Sonoma State University/A. Simonnet
 
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