NICER Sees “Hot Spot” Magnetar Merger

NASA’s NICER Observatory aboard the International Space Station sees a unique astrophysical first.


NICER (the square-shaped array, in the center of the image) on the exterior of the ISS. Credit: NASA

A unique high-flying observatory aboard the International Space Station recently completed a one-of-a-kind discovery, of a bizarre astrophysical object.

On the night of October 10, 2020, NASA’s orbiting Neil Gehrels Swift observatory spotted an anomalous source: a fast-spinning magnetar, blinking in the x-ray spectrum once every 10.4 seconds. The Neil Gehrels Swift observatory is designed to track gamma-ray bursts, but it occasionally spies other curious sources as it scans the sky across the visible light/x-ray/gamma-ray spectrum.Read more