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Saturday, July 27, 2013

Super-dense neutron stars and their secrets

Scientists have new clue to the strange operation of neutron stars - these objects are so dense that they compress the mass of several suns in the space of less than a terrestrial city.

Neutron stars are born when a massive star runs out of fuel for nuclear fusion and decay. They cast off its outer layers, and their nuclei are compressed by gravity and become denser and denser. 


And finally, the pressure is so great that even the atoms can not maintain its structure and collapse. Protons and electrons are essentially merge with one another producing neutrons and light particles called neutrinos. The end result of these processes is - a star whose mass is 90% of the neutrons.

It turns out there is a universal relation between the properties of such stars as - the speed of rotation of the star and it is easy to deform its shape. This link may help astronomers understand the physics of the nucleus inside neutron stars and help distinguish these stars from their cousins ​​who for scientists even more mysterious - a quark star.

Quark star - mysterious objects are presumed to be even denser than neutron stars. In the quark stars, even the neutrons cannot exist, and they break up into their constituents - quarks. Scientists can not yet say definitively how to distinguish between neutron and quark stars with current observations, so that some of the known neutron stars may well eventually turn out to be - quark stars.


However, the new relations found Nicolas Yunis and his colleague Kent Yagi, can help distinguish the two super-dense body. Understanding these relationships in neutron stars can also help researchers in studies of the general theory of relativity and the laws of physics in a strong gravitational field. 

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