What are Neutron Stars?

What are Neutron Stars?

Neutron Stars smashed into each other to produce gravitational waves.

The universe around us full of amazing phenomena and the advancement in technology has revealed some of them. Concepts like dark matter, distant stars, and supernova are some of the popular space explorations. Similarly, the in-depth study of different planets of our solar system has blessed us with some amazing knowledge. Neutron stars are formed when giant stars die in supernovas and their cores collapse. Due to immense pressure and heat, protons and electrons melt and fuse with each other to give birth to neutrons. That’s why they are called Neutron stars. This fusion results in the formation of city-size stellar objects.

A lot of scientists rank them as the most exotic objects in the universe. The reason for this is their habit of over-achievement. Neutron stars supersede all the known bodies on accounts of magnetic field strength, temperature, gravity, and density. The general perception is that black holes are the densest parts of our universe and that’s why a lot of arguments are raised against this claim. As we know nothing about the internal structure of black holes, they are neglected when this comparison is being done. The density of the core of these stars reaches a few times the density of an atomic nucleus. This fact is enough to suggest how dense these things are.

A sample of the neutron star material of the size of a sand grain weighs approximately 500,000 tons. If you think nothing can amaze you more, then you must know the details about the formation process of these stars. A violent supernova involving an explosion of 4 to 8 Sun-sized stars is needed to produce a neutron star. The energy released is so much that these stars can spin several times in a second. The speed of spinning goes up to 43,000 times per minute but it continues to slow down with time. Their outer layer is blown away following the blast displaying spectacular scenes. What remains behind is a small, dense core that continues to collapse. The pressure exerted by the gravity becomes too much for protons and electrons to handle so they combine with each other to form neutrons.

Neutron Star attracts things 2 billion times more powerfully than the Earth.

They are relatively small in size considering the fact that their diameter goes up to 20 kilometers. This is another factor from which you can determine the strength of the gravitational pull. It captures everything within its range and according to an estimate, the gravity on a neutron star is 2 billion times stronger than the gravitational power of our planet. An astronomical benefit that is being utilized by the researchers these days is that this gravitational field has the capability to bend the radiations coming from the sun. This gives way to gravitational lensing due to which some parts that are on the back side of the star can also be viewed.

Physicists observed the first-ever merger of neutron stars in October, last year. They regarded it as the most violent phenomenon of the universe. Pulsar is the name given to those stars that throw of material at the speed of light and these beams flash when they move past the Earth. Science has managed to identify different types of neutron stars. Each one of them has some unique characteristics which differentiate it from the others. Firstly, we have normal pulsars. Their spinning rate variates in the range of 0.1 to 60 times per second. In case of millisecond pulsars, this number increases to 700 times per second. Accretion-powered pulsars are the ones where a pulsar interacts with the magnetic field of its neighbor. This leads to the emission of gamma rays while spinning speed of the star is slowed down.

When a pulsar accelerates within the magnetosphere of another pulsar, it seems as if the neutron star is flickering. Scientists have observed a regular pattern in this flickering and they are planning to make the most of it by using it for navigation of spaceflights. Keith Gendreau, a representative of the Goddard Space Flight Center of NASA, briefed the media about this in the following words.

“Some of these millisecond pulsars are extremely regular, clock-like regular. We use these pulsars the same way we use the atomic clocks in a GPS navigation system.”

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