While every neutron star has an intense magnetic field, the ones known as magnetars are exceptional.
The pulses are from a beam of light produced by the intense magnetic field, which sweeps across Earth as the neutron star rotates.
That extra spin in the progenitor star might have been enough to give the neutron star more magnetic power, making it a magnetar.
|neutron star |
A celestial object consisting of an extremely dense mass of neutrons, formed at the core of a supernova, where electrons and nuclei are compressed together so intensely by the force of gravity that protons and electrons merge together into neutrons. Though their mass is close to that of the Sun, the density of neutron stars is much higher—about 3 × 1011 kilograms per cubic centimeter (by comparison, the density of steel is 7.7 grams per cubic centimeter). Neutron stars are typically about 10 km across, and rotate very rapidly. Due to the spinning of electrically charged protons and electrons at their surfaces, their rotation gives rise to strong magnetic fields. The existence of neutron stars was predicted in the 1930s but was not confirmed until the discovery of the first pulsar in 1967. See more at pulsar.