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Most Massive Neutron Star Ever Detected, Almost too Massive to Exist

18 Sep 2019, 11:42 UTC
Most Massive Neutron Star Ever Detected, Almost too Massive to Exist
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Astronomers using the Green Bank Observatory (GBT) have discovered the most massive neutron star to date, a rapidly spinning pulsar approximately 4,600 light-years from Earth. This record-breaking object is teetering on the edge of existence, approaching the theoretical maximum mass possible for a neutron star.Neutron stars – the compressed remains of massive stars gone supernova – are the densest “normal” objects in the known universe. (Black holes are technically denser, but far from normal.) Just a single sugar-cube worth of neutron-star material would weigh 100 million tons here on Earth, or about the same as the entire human population. Though astronomers and physicists have studied and marveled at these objects for decades, many mysteries remain about the nature of their interiors: Do crushed neutrons become “superfluid” and flow freely? Do they breakdown into a soup of subatomic quarks or other exotic particles? What is the tipping point when gravity wins out over matter and forms a black hole?A team of astronomers using the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Green Bank Telescope (GBT) has brought us closer to finding the answers.The researchers, members of the NANOGrav Physics Frontiers Center, discovered that a rapidly rotating millisecond pulsar, called J0740+6620, is the most massive ...

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