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Hellish Heart

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Wade Hampton III

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Hellish Heart

PostTue Dec 05, 2017 2:35 am

Inside the hellish heart of a neutron star. Fascinating info-graphic:
neutron-star-art.jpg (34.18 KiB) Viewed 484 times ... aphic.html
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Wade Hampton III

  • Posts: 1630
  • Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 10:40 pm
  • Location: Pontiac, SC

Re: Hellish Heart

PostSat Dec 09, 2017 12:06 am

BY Michele Debczak
December 7, 2017

Neutron stars are among the many mysteries of the universe scientists are working to
unravel. The celestial bodies are incredibly dense, and their dramatic deaths are
one of the main sources of the universe’s gold. But beyond that, not much is known
about neutron stars, not even their size or what they’re made of. A new stellar
collision reported earlier this year may shed light on the physics of these unusual
objects. As Science News reports, the collision of two neutron stars—the remaining
cores of massive stars that have collapsed—were observed via light from gravitational
waves. When the two small stars crossed paths, they merged to create one large object.
The new star collapsed shortly after it formed, but exactly how long it took to perish
reveals keys details of its size and makeup.

One thing scientists know about neutron stars is that they’re really, really dense.
When stars become too big to support their own mass, they collapse, compressing their
electrons and protons together into neutrons. The resulting neutron star fits all
that matter into a tight space—scientists estimate that one teaspoon of the stuff
inside a neutron star would weigh a billion tons. This type of matter is impossible
to recreate and study on Earth, but scientists have come up with a few theories as
to its specific properties. One is that neutron stars are soft and yielding like
stellar Play-Doh. Another school of thought posits that the stars are rigid and
equipped to stand up to extreme pressure.

According to simulations, a soft neutron star would take less time to collapse than
a hard star because they’re smaller. During the recently recorded event, astronomers
observed a brief flash of light between the neutron stars’ collision and collapse.
This indicates that a new spinning star, held together by the speed of its rotation,
existed for a few milliseconds rather than collapsing immediately and vanishing into
a black hole. This supports the hard neutron star theory. Armed with a clearer idea
of the star’s composition, scientists can now put constraints on their size range.
One group of researchers pegged the smallest possible size for a neutron star with
60 percent more mass than our sun at 13.3 miles across. At the other end of the
spectrum, scientists are determining that the biggest neutron stars become smaller
rather than larger. In the collision, a larger star would have survived hours or
potentially days, supported by its own heft, before collapsing. Its short existence
suggests it wasn’t so huge.

Astronomers now know more about neutron stars than ever before, but their mysterious
nature is still far from being fully understood. The matter at their core, whether
free-floating quarks or subatomic particles made from heavier quarks, could change
all of the equations that have been written up to this point. Astronomers will
continue to search the skies for clues that demystify the strange objects.
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