For the first time, astronomers have observed a strange quantum phenomenon in action, where a neutron star is surrounded by a magnetic field so intense, it?s given rise to a region in empty space where matter spontaneously pops in and out of existence.
Called vacuum birefringence, this bizarre phenomenon was first predicted back in the 1930s, but had only ever been observed on the atomic scale. Now scientists have finally seen it occur in nature, and it goes against everything that Newton and Einstein had mapped out.
?This is a macroscopic manifestation of quantum field,? Jeremy Heyl from the University of British Columbia in Canada, who was not involved in the research, told Science. ?It?s manifest on the scale of a neutron star.?
An international team of astronomers led by Roberto Mignani from INAF Milan in Italy made the discovery while observing a neutron star called RX J1856.5-3754 that?s…
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