Using data gathered from a number of ground and orbiting observatories, astronomers have discovered a rare type of neutron star. Referred to as 1E 0102.2-7219 (E0102), the star is 200,000 light-years from Earth within the remnants of a supernova.
In simple terms, a neutron star is formed when giant stars collapse and undergo a supernova explosion. The ultra-dense core that remains after the explosion is a neutron star. The newly discovered star falls into a very rare category of neutron stars with a low magnetic field and no stellar companion. E0102 is the first neutron star of this type to be discovered outside the Milky Way galaxy.
Although only recently categorised as such, the star was discovered more than three decades ago. Since then, several observatories have been gathering data from E0102. That data was then combined to give us a stunning look at a neutron star hundreds of light years away from Earth.
The bulk of the data used to create the composite image was collected by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope, and VLT’s Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer or MUSE. The blue and purple data is from Chandra, the bright red from Muse, and the dark red and green from Hubble. What results is a staggeringly beautiful representation of this rare neutron star.