CORDIS - EU research results

The impact of highly magnetic neutron stars in the explosive and transient Universe

Project description

Studying neutron stars to unveil the Universe's most luminous events

Neutron stars, or pulsars, are amongst the most extreme stars, wielding the largest magnetic fields of any known object in the Universe. The most magnetic ones are called magnetars. These stars are thought to be the source of the most luminous transients, such as the super-luminous supernovae, gamma-ray bursts, fast radio bursts, or magnetar giant flares. Several giant flares have been detected within the Milky Way. However, scientists lack a complete census of the pulsar and magnetar population. The EU-funded MAGNESIA project is developing the first pulsar population model using Machine Learning techniques. The new model will take into account neutron star 3D magnetic field simulations and observational constraints from all multiband data archives.


The gravitational wave window is now open. It is then imperative to build quantitative models of neutron stars that use all the available tracers to constrain fundamental physics at the highest densities and magnetic fields. The most magnetic neutron stars, the magnetars, have been recently suggested to be powering a large variety of explosive and transient events. The enormous rotational power at birth, and the magnetic energy they can release via large flares, put the magnetars in the (yet) hand-wavy interpretations of gamma-ray bursts, the early phases of double neutron star mergers, super-luminous supernovae, hypernovae, fast radio bursts, and ultra-luminous X-ray sources. However, despite knowing about 30 magnetars, we are lacking a census of how many we expect within the pulsar population, nor we have robust constraints on their flaring rates. The recent discovery of transient magnetars, of magnetar-like flares from sources with measured low dipolar magnetic fields and from typical radio pulsars, clearly showed that the magnetar census in our Galaxy is largely under-estimated. This hampers our understanding not only of the pulsar and magnetar populations, but also of them as possibly related to many of Universe’s explosive events. MAGNESIA will infer a sound Magnetar Census via an innovative approach that will build the first Pulsar Population Synthesis model able to cope with constraints/limits from multi-band observations, and taking into account 3D magnetic field evolution models and flaring rates for neutron stars. Combining expertise in multi-band observations, numerical modeling, nuclear physics, and computation, MAGNESIA will solve the physics, the observational systematic errors, and the computational challenges that inhibited previous works, to finally constrain the spin period and magnetic field distribution at birth of the neutron star population.


Host institution

Net EU contribution
€ 2 263 148,00
28006 Madrid

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Comunidad de Madrid Comunidad de Madrid Madrid
Activity type
Research Organisations
Total cost
€ 2 263 148,00

Beneficiaries (1)