CM – The life of a beetle: Millimeter-high mountains on neutron stars

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July 19, 2021

by Royal Astronomical Society

New models of neutron stars show that their highest mountains may only be fractions of a millimeter high due to the enormous force of gravity on the ultra-dense objects. The research will be unveiled today at the 2021 National Astronomy Meeting.

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Neutron stars are among the densest objects in the universe: They weigh about as much as the sun, but are only about 10 km in diameter, which corresponds to the size of a large city.

Due to their compactness, neutron stars have an enormous Gravity about a billion times stronger than that of the earth. This crushes every feature on the surface to tiny dimensions and means that the stellar remnant is an almost perfect sphere.

Although they are billions of times smaller than on Earth, these deformations from a perfect sphere are still called mountains. The team behind the work, led by Ph.D. University of Southampton student Fabian Gittins used computer modeling to build realistic neutron stars and subject them to a range of mathematical forces to identify how the mountains are formed.

The team also studied the role of ultra-dense nuclear matter in the Supported the mountains and found that the largest mountains produced were only a fraction of a millimeter high, a hundred times smaller than previous estimates.

Fabian comments: « Over the past two decades there has been a lot of interest in understanding how big these are Mountains can be mountains before the crust of the neutron star breaks and the mountain can no longer be supported. « 

Previous work has shown that neutron stars can tolerate deviations of up to a few parts in a million from a perfect sphere, suggesting this that the mountains could be up to a few inches tall. These calculations assumed that the neutron star was so stressed that the crust was on the verge of breaking at any point. However, the new models show that such conditions are not physically realistic.

Fabian adds: “These results show that neutron stars are really remarkably spherical objects. They also suggest that observing gravitational waves from rotating neutron stars could be even more difficult than previously thought. ”

Although these are individual objects, rotating neutron stars with slight deformations should be waves in the structure of space-time due to their strong gravitation produce known as gravitational waves. Gravitational waves from rotations of single neutron stars have yet to be observed, although future advances in extremely sensitive detectors such as the advanced LIGO and Virgo could be key to studying these unique objects.

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Keywords:

Neutron star,Neutron,Gravity,Astronomy,Neutron star, Neutron, Gravity, Astronomy,,

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