A bizarre stellar glitch could provide the first glimpse at a neutron star's interior.

Cosmic Bug

Back in 2016, a neutron star named Vela "glitched" — it suddenly started spinning much more rapidly due to yet-unconfirmed causes.

Now, a closer look at the data capturing during that glitch is giving astronomers their first glance at the interior of a neutron star, according to research published Monday in the journal Nature Astronomy. By diving into the data, a team from Monash University and McGill University learned that neutron stars like Vela are made up of three distinct layers — a first-of-its-kind discovery that helps understand more about what makes exotic stars tick.

Old Faithful

Only five percent of neutron stars have ever been known to glitch in this manner, but Vela has one of these bizarre events just about every three years, according to a Monash University press release. That makes it a popular target for scientists to monitor as they probe the cosmos.

This second look at the data from Vela's 2016 glitch may have confirmed on proposed explanation for the sudden acceleration, and it's explained by the differences between the star's layers.

"One of these components, a soup of superfluid neutrons in the inner layer of the crust, moves outwards first and hits the rigid outer crust of the star causing it to spin up," Monash astronomer Paul Lasky said in the press release. "But then, a second soup of superfluid that moves in the core catches up to the first causing the spin of the star to slow back down."

READ MORE: Glitch in neutron star reveals its hidden secrets [Monash University via Phys.org]

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