The neutron star, left, is surrounded by a swirling disk of gas supplied by the companion star, the yellow-red sphere at right. The neutron stars immense gravity pulls gas onto its surface. (Image credit: NASA/GSFC/Dana Berry)
Theory says that the neutron star crust is about a mile thick. Beneath is likely a superfluid of neutrons. Extreme gravity has compressed protons and electrons into neutrons. (Image credit: NASA/GSFC)
Scientists have obtained their best measurement yet of the size and contents of a neutron star, an ultra-dense object containing the strangest and rarest matter in the universe.
The measurement may lead to a better understanding of nature’s building blocks -- protons, neutrons and their constituent quarks -- as they are compressed inside the neutron star to a density trillions of times greater than on Earth.
Tod Strohmayer of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., and Adam Villarreal, a physics graduate student at the University of Arizona, present their results today at the American Astronomical Society’s High Energy Astrophysics Division meeting in New Orleans.
Lori Stiles | EurekAlert!
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