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Protons strongly influence the behaviour of neutron stars

14 Aug 2018, 16:23 UTC
Protons strongly influence the behaviour of neutron stars
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Neutron stars are the densest, most magnetic and fastest-spinning objects in the universe that scientists can observe directly. Image credits: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/S. Wiessinger
Neutron stars are the smallest, densest stars in the universe, born out of the gravitational collapse of extremely massive stars. True to their name, neutron stars are composed almost entirely of neutrons — neutral subatomic particles that have been compressed into a small, incredibly dense celestial package.
A new study in Nature suggests that some properties of neutron stars may be influenced not only by their multitude of densely packed neutrons, but also by a substantially smaller fraction of protons — positively charged particles that make up just five percent of a neutron star. Because protons may carry substantially more energy than previously thought, they may contribute to properties of a neutron star such as its stiffness, its ratio of mass to size and its process of cooling.
The research was led by Professor Eli Piasetzky of Tel Aviv University’s School of Physics, London, Israel, Professor Or Hen of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), United States, and Professor Larry Weinstein of Old Dominion University, Virginia, United States. The graduate student who analysed the ...

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