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Astronomers may soon detect extreme objects producing gravitational waves continuously

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An artist’s concept of a binary star pair where a small star is supplying matter to a neutron star. Due to perturbations in neutron stars, gravitational waves may be streaming continuously into space. Credit: Gabriel Pérez Díaz, SMM (IAC)

The space menagerie contains strange and extreme objects that generate gravitational waves. Scorpius X-1 is part of that weird collection. It is a neutron star orbiting with a small star called Scorpio V818. This pair provides a prime target for scientists looking for so-called “continuous” gravitational waves. These waves should exist, but have not yet been detected.

“Scorpius X-1 is one of the most promising sources for detecting these continuous gravitational waves,” said John Whelan, professor of mathematical sciences at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Principal Investigator of the RIT Group of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, part of a group of scientists, LIGO is a laser interferometer gravitational-wave observatory in Washington and Louisiana, Virgo (Italy) and KAGRA (Japan) are also I often work with LIGO to search for gravitational waves.

Gravitational Wave Hunting with Scorpius X-1

Whelan’s team used data from the third LIGO-Virgo observation to look for continuous gravitational waves from Scorpio X-1. “It’s pretty close at just 9,000 light year Whelan said, “You can see it very brightly on X-rays. companion star It is attracted to neutron stars. ”

Despite its brightness, the team did not detect a continuous wave of gravitational waves from Scorpio X-1. Not without waves. Indeed, their data provide an important goalpost in planning more observations of the pair. It should help improve their search methods, ultimately leading to the detection of these elusive waves.

“This search provided the best constraint yet on the possible strength of gravitational waves emitted from Scorpio X-1,” Candidate. “For the first time, this search has been sensitive to models of possible torque-balance scenarios for the system, which state that the torque of gravitational waves and the accretion of matter onto a neutron star are in balance. In the years ahead, we expect better sensitivity from more data acquired by advanced LIGO observation runs that explore torque balance scenarios more deeply, in the hopes of making the first continuous-wave detections.”

Soon, astronomers will detect an extreme object that continuously produces gravitational waves

The artist’s conception of a neutron star shows a schematic of its magnetic field and possible jets of matter escaping from its poles. In the Scorpius X-1 system, a neutron star is paired with a low-mass star. Matter escapes from the small star to the surface of the neutron star. Irregularities on the surface of neutron stars may play a role in the generation of gravitational waves. Credit: Kevin Gill, Attributes 2.0 Generics (CC BY 2.0)

Scorpius X-1 System

Scorpius X-1 is the strongest X-ray source in our sky (after the Sun). Astronomers discovered it in 1962 when he launched a probe into space carrying an X-ray detector. Over the years, they have determined that the intense X-ray emission is coming from a 1.4-solar-mass neutron star that is engulfing material flowing from a smaller 0.4-solun-mass companion star. The strong gravitational field of stellar matter accelerates as it falls into the star. It heats up matter and causes it to emit X-rays.

Although the system is a powerful X-ray emitter and bright in the light, it is actually classified as a low-mass X-ray binary. The orbital period of the two bodies is 18.9 hours. It is not clear whether they formed together early in history. suggests that there is The larger companion star eventually exploded as a supernova, creating a neutron star.

Understanding the Scorpio X-1 Binary Pair Using Gravitational Waves

Most of us are familiar with gravitational waves produced by black holes and neutron star mergers. The first detection of these waves occurred in 2015. Since then, LIGO and her sister facilities, KAGRA and Virgo, have regularly detected these “stronger” waves. It’s important to remember that these detections record specific collisions (essentially “one-off” events). But they are not the only sources of gravitational waves in space. Astronomers believe that massive celestial bodies that rotate hundreds of times per second, such as neutron stars, can produce detectable weak continuous waves.

So what causes waves in a neutron star-companion binary star pair? Look at the outer structure of a neutron star. Scientists describe them as uniformly smooth bodies with strong gravitational and magnetic fields. However, the surface may have small irregularities (called “mountains”). These protrude only a millimeter from the surface of the neutron star’s “crust”. A mountain is really a deformation of its crust. They are created by the extreme stress of the neutron star’s electromagnetic field.

These deformations can also occur if the object rotates slowly. Or perhaps when that spin suddenly picks up speed. However they form, they affect the magnetic and gravitational fields of neutron stars.maybe that’s the reason gravitational wavesIf so, those mountains may be small, but their influence may be large.

The challenge now is to measure those waves. Final, Astronomer Detects the constant “washing” of waves coming from Scorpius X-1. their data is neutron the star itself. It should also give clues to the dynamics of binary pairs as the members orbit each other.

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