Probing Extreme Matter Through Observations Of Neutron Stars


Credits: NASA/CXC/Michigan State/A.Steiner et al

Credits: NASA/CXC/Michigan State/A.Steiner et al

Neutron stars, the ultra-dense cores left behind after massive stars collapse, contain the densest matter known in the Universe outside of a black hole. New results from Chandra and other X-ray telescopes have provided one of the most reliable determinations yet of the relation between the radius of a neutron star and its mass. These results constrain how nuclear matter – protons and neutrons, and their constituent quarks – interact under the extreme conditions found in neutron stars.

Because the mass and radius of a neutron star is directly related to interactions between the particles in the interior of the star, the latest results give scientists new information about the inner workings of neutron stars.

The new values for the neutron star’s structure should hold true even if matter composed of free quarks exists in the core of the star. Quarks are fundamental particles that combine to form protons and neutrons and are not usually found in isolation. It has been postulated that free quarks may exist inside the centers of neutron stars, but no firm evidence for this has ever been found.

Full Story & Image: http://www.chandra.si.edu/photo/2013/47tuc/
Also: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/chandra/multimedia/x7.html

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