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Lack of spacetime squiggles limit how much a pulsar can be squashed

20 Aug 2020, 12:00 UTC
Lack of spacetime squiggles limit how much a pulsar can be squashed
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The answer: not much at all – they can be nearly perfect spheres! A new paper by the LIGO-Virgo collaboration presents the latest results of the search for continuous gravitational waves from their third observing run (O3).
Title: Gravitational-wave constraints on the equatorial ellipticity of millisecond pulsarsAuthors: The LIGO Scientific Collaboration, the Virgo CollaborationStatus: Submitted to The Astrophysical Journal; Available on ArXivNeutron stars represent one of matter’s weirdest manifestations. With a mass little more than that of the Sun packed into a big city, getting to know their size, shape and structure can unlock the most fundamental questions in atomic physics. What makes up a neutron star? Are they rigid or squishy? Are they perfectly spherical? If they have deformities, what is the tallest ‘mountain’ they can support?The first direct detection of gravitational waves by LIGO in 2015 gave us one of the best tools for studying neutron stars. Gravitational waves are radiated whenever matter moves in an asymmetric manner, which changes its quadrupole moment with time. For us to be able to detect these waves, they need to emanate from such motion of extremely massive and dense matter. The first detection was radiation from a pair of black holes ...

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