Many scientists have been puzzled by the electromagnetic radiation that is being released in regions where neutron stars and black holes are present.
It was thought that the high-energy radiation that makes black holes and neutron stars to shine bright is created by electrons that move at the speed of light. The phenomenon that leads to such a powerful acceleration has remained elusive for now.
A team of researchers from Columbia University offers a possible explanation for the physics behind the phenomenon. By harnessing the power of advanced super-computer simulation, the researchers managed to calculate how the particles accelerate and concluded that it is an effect of the interaction between chaotic motion and high-power magnetic fields.
Magnetic reconnection is a process during which magnetic field lines will tear and then reconnect rapidly. Along with turbulence, it accelerates the particles, boosting them towards speed that is close to that of light, according to one of the researchers who contributed to the study.
Why black holes and neutron stars shine
Regions where black holes and neutron stars are present showcase the presence of a hot gas filled with charged particles. As the gas moves, it will drag magnetic field lines, leading to active magnetic reconnection.
An additional field powered by the magnetic reconnection and turbulence will accelerate the particles to levels that cannot be achieved with the help of the most powerful accelerators present on Earth.
Due to the unstable nature of the gas, it is difficult to predict its motion. The calculations involved in this task are complicated, and researchers used super-computer-powered simulations that could process a large amount of data.
The main aim of the study was to identify the purpose of magnetic reconnection within the environment affected by the turbulences. Reconnection plays a significant role as it selects the particles that will be accelerated by the magnetic fields. Further information can be found in a study that was published in a peer-reviewed journal.