A window into a neutron star. Scientists will be able to look inside the densest object in the universe
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A new discovery will allow scientists to discover the main constituents of the matter of neutron stars.
Neutron stars are among the most unique objects in the universe. Scientists believe that they have a diameter of 15 to 20 km, but at the same time they are among the densest objects in space. Their mass is 2 times greater than that of the Sun, and the density exceeds the density of any natural material on Earth by tens of trillions of times. But scientists still have no idea what exactly neutron stars are made of, that is, their so-called equation of state (EOS). Scientists from Princeton University, USA, presented their vision of a solution to this problem, writes Phys.
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Astrophysicists would love to look inside neutron stars, which are the cooled cores of dead giant stars. But these stars are too small and far away to be studied with modern telescopes.
Scientists therefore rely on indirect data that can be measured, such as the mass and diameter of a neutron star, to calculate the SE , just like you can use the length of two sides of a right triangle to determine its hypotenuse.
But accurately measuring the diameter of a neutron star is very difficult. A promising alternative for future observations is to use a quantity called the peak spectral frequency, or f2, to study neutron stars.
But how to measure this quantity? Collisions between neutron stars provoke the appearance of strong emissions of gravitational waves. According to Elias Most of Princeton University, the peak spectral frequency can be calculated from such a gravitational wave signal.
According to Most, determining the SE is not like solving a simple hypotenuse problem. Instead, it's more like calculating the longest side of an irregular triangle, where a third piece of information is also required, namely the angle between the two shorter sides.
According to Carolyn Reitel of Princeton University, this third component is the “slope of the mass-diameter ratio” that encodes information about the SE. This new discovery will allow scientists working with next-generation gravitational wave observatories to better use data from neutron star collisions.
These data could reveal what neutron stars are made of, Reitel says.
“Some theoretical predictions suggest that in the cores of neutron stars, phase transitions can turn neutrons into subatomic particles – quarks. If this is true, then inside neutron stars, inside stars, there is a sea of free quark matter. Our work may help future researchers determine, do such phase transitions really occur,” says Reitel.
As Focus already wrote, scientists have discovered the heaviest neutron star in the Universe. And it is the second fastest rotating neutron star in the Milky Way.
We remind you that the “explosive wave” from the birth of a black hole at a distance of 2 billion light years from us hit the Earth's atmosphere, as already wrote Focus.