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Neutron stars are the end-state of massive stars that have spent their fuel and exploded as supernovae. There’s an upper limit to their mass, because a massive enough star won’t become a neutron star; it’ll become a black hole. But finding that upper mass limit, or tipping point, between a star that becomes a black hole and one that becomes a neutron star, is something astronomers are still working on.
Now a new discovery from astronomers using the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Green Bank Telescope (GBT) have found the most massive neutron star yet, putting some solid data in place about the so-called tipping point.
Neutron - Stars - Matter - Objects - Universe
Neutron stars are made of ultra-dense matter. They’re tightly-compressed, and they’re the densest objects in the Universe that are made of normal matter. (Black holes are actually denser, but they’re not normal.) They’re so dense, in fact, that a sugar-cube of neutron star would weigh about a hundred million tons on Earth. And they’re plentiful: astronomers think there are about 100 million of them in the Milky Way alone.
“These city-sized objects are essentially ginormous atomic nuclei.”
Thankful - Cromartie - Lead - Author - Graduate
Thankful Cromartie, Lead Author, graduate student at the University of Virginia, fellow at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The researchers behind this discovery are members of the NANOGrav Physics Frontiers Center. The star they discovered is a rapidly-rotating pulsar, the most massive one ever measured. It’s called J0740+6620, and it’s 2.17 times as massive as our Sun. And all that mass is jammed into a tiny sphere only about 30 km in diameter.
Understanding - Types - Stars - Neutron - Star
According to our understanding of these types of stars, this neutron star is about as massive, and as compact, as a star can be before it collapses into a black hole. According to LIGO, (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory) and the gravitational waves it observed from merging neutron...
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