Department of Physics and Technology

Groundbreaking research by IFT researchers ends up in Nature

The ASIM instrument aboard the International Space Station (ISS) – built by a team of, among others, several members of the Birkeland Center for Space Research (BCSS) / IFT – was the only instrument out of seven that detected the giant flare and recorded the main eruption phase of a magnetar without be blinded by the giant flash of high energy that saturated the other six detectors at the time of maximum discharge.

BCSS / Mt. Visual

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After a very long journey through space, a burst of high-energy radiation was detected by the Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM) instrument aboard the International Space Station (ISS) on April 15, 2020. The origin of this energetic burst was found to be a giant flare from an extremely magnetized neutron star known as a magnetar, located more than 10 million light years away in the galaxy NGC 253.

“Detections of giant flares from magnetars are extremely rare”, explains Alberto J. Castro-Tirado (Institute of Astrophysics of Andalucía, CSIC, Spain). “The burst on April 15 was the first conclusive detection of a magnetar giant flare since 2004. In just a sixth of a second, the flare released an energy comparable to what the Sun radiates in 100.000 years”.

Read more about the new ASIM observations on the BCSS homepage.

Read the Nature article here.