Artist’s concept of a neutron star. The star’s tiny size and extreme density give it incredibly powerful gravity at its surface. Thus this image portrays the space around the neutron star as being curved. Now, scientists have determined neutron-star mountains are less than a millimeter tall. Image via Raphael.concorde/ Daniel Molybdenum/ NASA.
For decades, astronomers have maintained that mountains on tiny, dense neutron stars would be just millimeters tall. Minuscule mountains on neutron stars are a cherished theoretical concept. Now a study has put some new, hard numbers toward the idea. Fabian Gittins at the University of Southampton led the new research. He presented it at NAM2021, a meeting of astronomers held July 19-21, 2021, at the University of Bath in the U.K. The new work shows that the mountains on neutron stars are only fractions of millimeters tall. Even so, you still couldn’t climb ’em.
The researchers published a peer-reviewed paper about neutron-star mountains in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
How big are ‘mountains’ on neutron stars?
Here’s how Gittins introduced the new study to other astronomers at NAM2021:
The maximum [mountain] that a neutron star can sustain is of great interest. In ...