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- What would a teaspoonful of neutron star do to you?
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Of course, the supply of gas from the companion will eventually run out. The current record-holder PSR Jad spins times every second!
But even neutron stars cannot remain active forever. Ultimately the spin energy will dissipate and without a companion to recycle it, the pulsar will cross the death line beyond which it is no longer detectable. After that, the neutron star will gradually cool until the end of time. Until then, neutron stars will continue to serve as extraordinary laboratories for the study of matter under extreme densities and temperatures.
What would a teaspoonful of neutron star do to you?
A contemporary Robinsonade — York, York. The polar oceans and global climate — Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire. Edition: Available editions United Kingdom. Duncan Galloway , Monash University. Origin of a neutron star Neutron stars are thought to be formed from the supernova explosion that ends the life of a medium-sized star, roughly eight to 20 times the mass of our sun.
Anatomy of a neutron star. Dany P Page Neutron stars give off little visible light, making them practically impossible to detect in blind searches. As well as these ordinary radio pulsars, there are several other more interesting flavours, also with rather quirky names: Rotating RAdio Transients RRATs are pulsars with apparently! Fusion occurs The gas which collects on the surface of the neutron star via the accretion process is likely similar to the composition of our own sun — primarily hydrogen and helium, with a few per cent of other elements.
This situation is analogous to a figure skater pulling in his or her arms to spin faster. This crust is extremely hard and very smooth due to immense gravity. The outer core consists of matter composed of ordinary atomic nuclei crushed into a solid lattice, with a sea of electrons flowing through the gaps between them. Proceeding inward, one encounters nuclei with ever increasing numbers of neutrons; such nuclei would decay quickly on Earth, but here they are kept stable by tremendous pressures here.
In this region, there are nuclei, free electrons, and free neutrons. The nuclei become increasingly small gravity and pressure overwhelming the strong force until the core is reached, by definition the point where they disappear altogether. The core is not well understood. One sugar cube equates to billion tons. A cubic meter?
The entire weight of the Atlantic Ocean.
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For many years this gas had been piling up in a disk of matter swirling around the neutron star. When enough matter had accumulated, it all started to move inwards at once. The physics behind this everyday phenomenon is the release of gravitational energy, which is converted into the energy of motion. In exactly the same way, the gravitational energy of the mass was released as it fell in towards the neutron star.
Unexpected find from a neutron star forces a rethink on radio jets
That energy was initially converted into motion, and eventually into X-ray radiation, which was what the Swift satellite detected. The brightness of the radio emission tracked the brightness of the X-rays from the source as the burst rose and then faded away over a period of a few months. The behaviour of the radio emission led us to conclude that it was coming from jets. Jets are narrowly-focused beams of matter and energy that travel outwards at close to the speed of light.
They carry away some of the gravitational energy released when matter falls in towards a central object, such as a black hole or neutron star. The jets deposit this energy into the surroundings, often at very large distances from the launch point.
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In neutron stars and black holes that are only a few times more massive than the Sun, this energy can be transported many light years away. For supermassive black holes that lie at the centres of galaxies, the jets can carry away energy to hundreds of thousands of light years from the galaxy centre. Since the dawn of radio and X-ray astronomy in the middle of last century, jets have been studied extensively.
They are produced whenever matter falls onto a dense central object, from newly-forming stars to white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes. The one exception had been neutron stars with strong magnetic fields - around a trillion times stronger than that of the Sun. Despite decades of observations, jets had not been detected in these systems. This had led to the suggestion that strong magnetic fields prevented jets from being launched. Our detection of jets from a neutron star with a strong magnetic field disproved the idea that had held for the past several decades.
But it requires a re-examination of our theories for how jets are produced. There are two main theories explaining how jets are launched.