Thursday, October 28, 2010

Biggest neutron star ever noticed is twice the mass of the sun

Researchers found that regardless of being comparatively small and around the size of a small city the star is so tightly crushed that its weight is massive. Just a thimbleful of material from the star, named PSR J1614-223, would weigh 500 million tonnes. Astronomers discovered that the neutron star, the "corpse" that remains after a star has undergone a supernova, is twice as huge as our sun.

It is located about 3,000 light-years away in the course of the constellation Scorpio, a newly spotted neutron star is the largest ever discovered to date. Scientists believe its discovery could have wide ranging inference for our understanding of physics. Because they are so dense, the stars are an ideal natural lab for scientists to study some of the most alien states of matter known to physics, which can only exist in such extreme environments.

The star was found by the National Science Foundation's Green Bank Telescope (GBT). Scientists used an effect of Einstein's theory of relativity to measure its mass and that of its orbiting buddy, a white dwarf star. "This neutron star is twice as enormous as our Sun," said Paul Demorest, from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), in Charlottesville, Virginia. "This is surprising and that much mass means that several theoretical models for the internal composition of neutron stars now are feint out.

"This mass measurement also has implications for our understanding of all matter at tremendously high densities and many details of nuclear physics." The neutron star is a pulsar, which emits beams of radio waves like a lighthouse as it spins. "It is amazing to me that one simple number - the mass of this neutron star - can tell us so much about so many different phases of physics and astronomy."