Astronomers discover a massive neutron star that almost shouldn't exist

CNET | 9/16/2019 | Eric Mack
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An illustration of the pulsar and a nearby white dwarf star, which scientists used to help measure the pulsar's mass.

Scientists say they've found a spinning neutron star, or pulsar, that is so densely compacted, it might be right on the limit of what's possible. It could exist precariously at the tipping point where any more pressure would cause it to collapse completely and form a new black hole.

Team - Astronomers - Green - Bank - Telescope

A team of astronomers using the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia found that the rapidly rotating pulsar, called J0740+6620, is the most massive neutron star ever measured.

A neutron star is a very weird cosmic object that's basically the highly compressed remnant of a massive star after it has gone through a supernova explosion.

Neutron - Stars - Tipping - Point - Interior

"Neutron stars have this tipping point where their interior densities get so extreme that the force of gravity overwhelms even the ability of neutrons to resist further collapse," said Scott Ransom, an astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and co-author of a paper publishing Monday in Nature Astronomy. "Each 'most massive' neutron star we find brings us closer to identifying that tipping point and helping us to understand the physics of matter at these mind-boggling densities."

To begin to imagine the density, picture our sun, which has 333,000 times as much mass as the Earth. Got it? Ok, now imagine the sun has a twin and this pair of twins has a little sister named Proxima Centauri, which is the nearest star beyond the sun; she's a red dwarf star with a mass that's roughly one-sixth that of the sun.

Now imagine you...
(Excerpt) Read more at: CNET
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