Astronomers from the Goddard Space Flight Center have recorded several bright flares of magnetars in nearby galaxies.
Apart from black holes, magnetars can be the most powerful celestial bodies in the universe. They have a diameter less than the length of Manhattan, but they have a greater mass than the Sun, and they also have the largest magnetic field than any previously studied object.
Magnetars are so highly magnetized that even small perturbations in the magnetic field can cause bursts of X-rays that last sporadically for weeks or months. These unusual stars are also thought to be the source of some types of short gamma-ray bursts (GRBs): bright bursts of high energy radiation.
A short GRB, discovered on April 15, 2020, in a galaxy 11.4 million light-years away, could help astronomers find magnetic bursts more easily. This is necessary to explain the nature of magnetars and the features of their rays.
GRB beams are the most powerful in space and can be detected at a distance of a billion light-years. Most of them last less than two seconds. This is called a gamma-ray burst. It occurs when a pair of rotating neutron stars merge with each other.