Until recently, it was theorized that strong magnetic fields surrounding a neutron star would inhibit the release of matter in a relativistic jet. Essentially, or in layman’s terms, think of a very dense ball of water that is sucking up more water, the walls are struggling to keep the water in, but the gravitational forces of the core material are sucking more external water into the ball, and the external magnetic forces are acting like a force field shield keeping bits of water from spurting out, sort of like a comprehensive pressure release valve.

So, that’s the theory; it was based on accumulated observations that showed neutron starts only produced relativistic jets (pressure releases) when the magnetic fields were weaker, by around 1,000 times of their counterparts that were totally silent.

Now, a recent observation has hanged this theory out of drying. In the distant constellation of Cassiopeia, which is roughly 24,000 light years away from us, sits a small dead star that should not be there. The reason it should not be there is because it was undented until a relativistic spurt of matter erupted from its core.

Now you might ask, with an eyebrow raised, “and?”, and the answer would be simply, that this star has an extremely strong magnetic shield, around a 10 trillion times stronger than the one that our sun produces. As such, the old theory based on observation is not defunct based on new observation, sort of like when Galileo observed the sun and realized that we went around it and not it around us.

For those among us that were brought up on bread and butter and not quantum particles, a neutron star is a star that is dying, and during its decay, the core matter folds in on itself creating a very densely packed mass of gravity compressed matter of around 10 to 20 kilometers in diameter surrounded by a magnetic shield. Imagine compressing a ball that is roughly 2 to 3 times the size of our sun into a small 10-kilometer ball. That’s how high the compression becomes, and now you understand why the relativistic jets are similar to jets of water being released from an over-pressurized container.

The article that astronomer Jakob van den Eijnden of the University of Amsterdam and his team presented in Nature magazine goes and disrupts an entire scientific community’s tea time, and sends the researchers back to their telescopes to start observing and calculating what could be the cause of a relativistic jet, it’s obviously not got much to do with how strong the magnetic shield is surrounding the neutron star.