Coming To A Theatre Near You… Extreme Neutron Stars!


They came into existence violently… Born at the death of a massive star. They are are composed almost entirely of neutrons, barren of electrical charge and with a slightly larger mass than protons. They are quantum degenerates with an average density typically more than one billion tons per teaspoonful – a state which can never be created here on Earth. And they are absolutely perfect for study of how matter and exotic particles behave under extreme conditions. We welcome the extreme neutron star…

In 1934 Walter Baade and Fritz Zwicky proposed the existence of the neutron star, only a year after the discovery of the neutron by Sir James Chadwick. But it took another 30 years before the first neutron star was actually observed. Up until now, neutron stars have had their mass accurately measure to about 1.4 times that of Sol. Now a group of astronomers using the Green Bank Radio Telescope found a neutron star that has a mass of nearly twice that of the Sun. How can they make estimates so precise? Because the extreme neutron star in question is actually a pulsar – PSR J1614-2230. With heartbeat-like precision, PSR J1614-2230 sends out a radio signal each time it spins on its axis at 317 times per second.

via Coming To A Theatre Near You… Extreme Neutron Stars!.

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