Strongest magnetic field discovered in the Universe

Scientists observed the accreting X-ray pulsar GRO J1008-57 and found a magnetic field of ~ 1 billion Tesla on the surface of the neutron star. It is the strongest magnetic field found in the universe. The new work, published in the Astrophysical Journal, was mainly carried out by scientists from the Institute for High Energy Physics (IHEP) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Eberhard Karl University in Tübingen, Germany.

Scientists studied the GRO J1008-57 X-ray pulsar detected by Insight-HXMT during its August 2017 outburst.

Insight-HXMT is China’s first X-ray astronomical satellite. It includes a scientific payload including a high energy telescope, a medium energy telescope, a low energy telescope, and a space environment monitor. Compared to other X-ray satellites, Insight-HXMT has outstanding advantages in detecting cyclotron lines (especially at high energies) due to its broadband (1–250 keV) spectral coverage, large effective area at high energies, and high temporal resolution.

Neutron stars have the strongest magnetic fields in the universe. X-ray binary neutron stars are systems composed of a neutron star and an ordinary stellar companion. The neutron star accretes matter and forms a surrounding accretion disk. Accretion is the process of increasing the mass of a celestial body by the gravitational attraction of matter (usually gas) onto it from the surrounding space. If the magnetic field is strong, the accreted matter is directed by magnetic lines to the surface of the neutron star, which results in X-rays.

Insight-HXMT was proposed by IHEP in 1993 and successfully launched in June 2017. The IHEP is responsible for scientific payload, ground segments and scientific research using this satellite.