While reading High Energy Astrophysics Picture of The Week – and about Magnetars in general, I came across `MAGNETARS’, SOFT GAMMA REPEATERS & VERY STRONG MAGNETIC FIELDS – a fascinating read on the insane physics of matter, light, and space itself, in magnetic fields ten orders of magnitude more powerful than an MRI. (Abstract & more after the break)

Magnetar Burst Sequence

The (2003) state of the art in Magnetar burst simulation and 3D graphics


Soft gamma repeaters (“SGRs”) are X-ray stars that emit bright, repeating flashes of soft (i.e. low-energy) gamma rays. The physical nature of these stars was a mystery for many years. In 1992, it was proposed that SGRs are magnetically-powered neutron stars, or magnetars. Subsequent observational studies lent support to this hypothesis. Astronomers now think that all emissions detected from SGRs and from a related class of stars known as anomalous X-ray pulsars (“AXPs”) are powered by magnetic field decay. Here I will explain how these strange, physically-extreme stars form, and why they emit steadily pulsating X-rays with sporadic, bright outbursts. I will also tell the story of their discovery and of the theoretical efforts which helped to reveal their bizarre nature.

NOTE: this website was originally written in May 1998, in response to a surge of interest in magnetars. In early 2003 I updated the site, to answer questions raised by readers of a Scientific American cover story on magnetars. I made significant revisions throughout, and added new sections. However, I did not come close to covering all the recent progress in this rapidly-developing area of astrophysics. I am currently writing a book that will tell much more about magnetars, and explain everything more carefully and thoroughly.

– R.D., March 2003

If you’re an advanced reader, I highly recommend his review article: “Physics in Ultra-strong Magnetic Fields” (PDF here)

magnetar field twisting

PLUS, there are beautiful hand-drawn diagrams like this!

~/Dropbox$ mkdir magnetars
~/Dropbox$ cd magnetars
~/Dropbox/magnetars$ wget -m solomon.as.utexas.edu/magnetar.html
Mirror (zip) right here!

Mirror (pdf) here!

Mirror: “hulking huge electromagnets” (here!)

There are MANY other links on the site (too many), so I’ll give them (hopefully) descriptive names and zip ’em. Tragically, there were many dead links. See why I mirror everything? (magnetars_refs)

The article I was reading – heapow 2013 June 3

And last, but not least; I noticed this gem in the article:

Note: A recent Google search of “magnetars” turned up over 10,000 webpages. I have seen only a small fraction of these, so I probably have omitted some good ones. Please let me know via e-mail if you know about links that I should add.

Story of my life!

~ by Alexander Riccio on June 8, 2013.

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