Scientists discover the most massive neutron star near the black hole limit – study

Astronomers have discovered the most massive neutron star ever observed, which is close to the limit for black holes. The discovery, made using the ALMA radio telescope in Chile, suggests that the most massive stars evolve into black holes and not in another form, as was once thought.

Scientists discover the most massive

neutron star near the black hole limit

The most massive neutron stars have long been thought to be far away, far from the strong gravity of their supermassive black holes. But a team of scientists has discovered one that is much closer to the black hole limit than expected, suggesting that such stars may be more common than previously thought. The finding was made using data from the NuSTAR space telescope, which was launched in 2012 and is operated by NASA’s California Institute of Technology. It is the first time scientists have been able to observe a massive neutron star in such detail, helping them understand the physics of the phenomenon in greater detail.

Scientists find the most massive neutron star close to the black hole limit

After millions or billions of years, a star, specifically one with 10-25 solar masses or more, can no longer produce this energy and collapses. As a result, a supernova blasts everything outward, while the core’s intense gravity and mass cause it to collapse in on itself, giving birth to a smaller, more compact, and more dense stellar object: a neutron star. A white dwarf star, which is similar but formed by the collapse of a much smaller star, should not be confused with this.

Despite the fact that neutron stars were once stars, they no longer produce heat because the core processes have failed. They are, of course, still hot because they need to cool down, which will take a long time. They can, however, grow in size due to accretion and collisions. The fact that neutron stars do not appear to be made of ordinary atoms is what makes them so intriguing. Rather, it appears that the collapse of the star resulted in them being entirely composed of neutrons, hence the name neutron star.

Scientists discover the most massive neutron star near the black hole limit

However, that limit is significant. The Tolman-Oppenheimer-Volkoff limit states that a neutron star must be between one and three solar masses, though the exact number is unknown, and other factors, such as whether or not the star is still spinning, must be considered.

What happens if it exceeds this limit? This implies that it will continue to collapse and condense, becoming denser. A black hole could form as a result of this. Of course, this isn’t the only way black holes form or die, with some scientists hypothesizing the existence of other stars, such as quark stars, but this is still unknown.

This isn’t entirely surprising given the discovery of binary neutron star and black widow binary star systems previously. Indeed, binary neutron stars and black widows are regarded as promising sources of neutron star growth information. The researchers had to use the sensitive Keck 1 telescope in Hawai’i to determine how much larger PSR J09520607 became as a result of devouring its stellar companion.

And the data they discovered demonstrated just how massive it is. This is significant because it adds to the understanding of what neutron stars are made of, which is a separate and very complicated topic in and of itself.
What is also intriguing about these findings is how they shed light on one of the mysteries surrounding pulsars: the spinning.

The reason neutron stars spin originally is due to the conservation of angular momentum

The conservation of angular momentum is what initially causes neutron stars to spin. That explanation, however, only goes so far as to explain when they spin once per second.What about those that spin even faster? What about pulsars, which spin hundreds or thousands of times per second and flash electromagnetic radiation beams?The only plausible explanation appears to be that something collided with the neutron star, pushing it and causing it to spin faster. But how does this happen? After all, not all pulsars are associated with a binary system.

However, one possible explanation is that these extremely fast pulsars were never alone – at least not at first. The idea is that each of these extremely fast pulsars must have had a companion star at one point, with the star’s evolution and growth influencing the pulsar and causing it to move faster. Then it is absorbed, with this new material pushing it even further, until they are all alone.

PSR J0952-0607 is still classified as a binary star because its companion is still present, albeit faintly, and has grown to be roughly 20 times the size of Jupiter, with temperatures hotter than the Sun. And, according to the researchers, this is exactly what is happening, with the black widow devouring its partner and possibly driving it to extinction, a phenomenon dubbed “cosmic ingratitude” by author Alex Filippenko of the University of California, Berkley.

The findings, however, are only a small part of the researchers’ efforts to quantify black widow pulsars and other unusual cases. The goal is to find more neutron stars on the verge of becoming black holes. If they don’t find any, it could simply mean they’ve reached their limit; anything more massive would have simply turned into a black hole.

how much does a neutron star weigh

The mass of a neutron star is at least 1.1 solar masses (M). The Tolman-Oppenheimer-Volkoff limit for neutron stars is generally thought to be around 2.1 M, but a recent estimate puts the upper limit at 2.16 M. [26] PSR J0740+6620, discovered in September 2019, has a maximum observed mass of about 2.14 M. Compact stars with masses less than the Chandrasekhar limit of 1.39 M are generally white dwarfs, while compact stars with masses between 1.4 M and 2.16 M are expected to be neutron stars. However, the masses of low-mass neutron stars and high-mass white dwarfs can overlap by a few tenths of a solar mass.

Q&A

what is a pulsar in space

Pulsars are rotating neutron stars that emit radiation pulses at very regular intervals ranging from milliseconds to seconds. Pulsars have extremely powerful magnetic fields that channel jets of particles out along their two magnetic poles. These accelerated particles produce extremely powerful light beams.

Are pulsars dead stars?

Pulsars, which are spinning dead stars made of densely packed neutrons, appear to blink on and off due to lighthouse-like radiation beams that sweep past Earth at regular intervals.

what is the average density of the sun?

The average density of the Sun is about 1.4 g/cm**3, meaning that it is about 1.4 times as dense as water. The radius of the Sun is about 1.4 million km (1,000,000 km). The mass of the Sun is 2.8 x 10**30 kg (≈3.7 x 10**33 lb). It also has other celestial bodies orbiting it, including a large moon (called the Moon), which is 150 km smaller than the Earth’s Moon and is about the same mass.

How rare is a neutron star?

During a supernova, neutron stars form and are held together by neutron degeneracy pressure. These stars are relatively rare: there are only about 108 of them in our galaxy, or one in every thousand stars, so the nearest one is most likely at least 40 light years away.

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