(Submitted June 09, 2010)
Is it true that magnetars are not unique objects, but are just a phase
in the lifespan of pulsars?
Thanks for your question! Both magnetars and pulsars are special types of
neutron stars. A magnetar is a highly magnetized neutron star and a pulsar
is a rapidly-rotating neutron star with a electromagnetic jet that sweeps
across the sky as the star spins. We have observations of both types of
objects, and they certainly may be unique. However, there was some recent
work by scientists at McGill University and NASA that showed observations
of a single neutron star that seemed to exhibit both magnetar-like and
pulsar-like behavior. What we don't know is if this is a very special object
or if magnetars and pulsars are always related.
Here is a link to a press release on the discovery:
Hope that Helps!
-Ira & Kevin
for "Ask an Astrophysicist"