A team of astronomers using the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia finds that a fast-spinning pulsar called J0740 + 6620 is the most massive neutron star ever measured.
is a very strange space object, which is basically a highly compressed remnant of a massive star after undergoing a supernova explosion.
"Neutron stars have this turning point where their internal density becomes so extreme that the force of gravity overcomes even the ability of neutrons to resist further collapse," says Scott Ransom, an astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy ObservatoryRA and co-author of a book published Monday in Nature Astronomy. "Every" most massive "neutron star we find brings us closer to identifying this turning point and helps us understand the physics of matter at these mind-numbing densities."
To begin to imagine the density, imagine our sun having 333,000 times the mass of the Earth. Got it? Well, now imagine that the sun has a twin and this twin couple has a little sister named Proxima Centaur, who is the closest star beyond the sun; it is a red dwarf star with a mass that is approximately one-sixth that of the sun.
Now imagine that you could pick up all three stars and drive them through the largest compactor in the universe, smashing them to create an exotic object about 30 miles (30 km) wide.
To put it simply, it's like taking these three massive stars and compressing them to be about the size of the city of Denver.
"Neutron stars are as mysterious as they are fascinating," says grateful Cromarty, a graduate student at the University of Virginia and an NRAO Fellow. "These city-sized objects are essentially huge atomic nuclei. They are so massive that their interiors have strange properties. Finding the maximum mass that physics and nature will allow can teach us a great deal about this otherwise inaccessible sphere in astrophysics. . "
The measurement of this neutron star actually came as part of NRAO's search for.
"At Green Bank, we're trying to find gravity waves from pulsars," said West Virginia University professor Maura McLaughlin. "To do this, we need to observe many millisecond pulsars that rotate neutron stars rapidly. This (discovery) is not a paper of gravitational wave detection, but one of the very important results that come from our observations."  Neutron stars and pulsars are the most dense "normal" objects we know of. The only denser one is a black hole, which is certainly not normal. As such, this specific pulsar detection is as close as we have ever come to determining the boundary between normal and most mysterious, mysterious and exotic objects in existence.
Originally posted 10:38 PM PT
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