Scientists Discover the Most Massive Neutron Star Ever

Scientists Discover the Most Massive Neutron Star Ever

Scientists have discovered the most massive neutron star that almost shouldn’t exist. The team of astronomers has used the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. They found that the rapidly rotating pulsar, called J0740+6620, is the most massive neutron star ever measured.

What Is Neutron Star?

A neutron star is the collapsed core of a giant star which before collapse had a total mass of between 10 and 29 solar masses. Neutron stars are the smallest and densest stars, not counting black holes, hypothetical white holes, quark stars and strange stars. They result from the supernova explosion of a massive star, combined with gravitational collapse, that compresses the core past white dwarf star density to that of atomic nuclei.

“Neutron stars have this tipping point where their interior densities get so extreme that the force of gravity overwhelms even the ability of neutrons to resist further collapse,” said Scott Ransom, an astronomer at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and co-author of a paper publishing Monday in Nature Astronomy. “Each ‘most massive’ neutron star we find brings us closer to identifying that tipping point and helping us to understand the physics of matter at these mind-boggling densities.” 

“Neutron stars are as mysterious as they are fascinating,” said Thankful Cromartie, a graduate student at the University of Virginia and fellow at NRAO. “These city-sized objects are essentially ginormous atomic nuclei. They are so massive that their interiors take on weird properties. Finding the maximum mass that physics and nature will allow can teach us a great deal about this otherwise inaccessible realm in astrophysics.” 

“At Green Bank, we’re trying to detect gravitational waves from pulsars,” explained West Virginia University professor Maura McLaughlin. “In order to do that, we need to observe lots of millisecond pulsars, which are rapidly rotating neutron stars. This (discovery) is not a gravitational wave detection paper but one of many important results which have arisen from our observations.”

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