JUN 26, 2018 5:17 PM PDT

Researchers Redefine Size Limits for Neutron Stars

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Neutrons stars are unimaginably dense, and perhaps even the densest-known objects in the entire universe. They can be as small as a city and contain just as much matter as a star would.

A neutron star compared to the size of a city, despite being incredibly dense.

Image Credit: Lukas Weih, Goethe University, satellite image: GeoBasis-DE/BKG (2009) Google

With that in mind, researchers have long tried to discern how large a typical neutron star really is. Discovering the answer to this particular question could potentially resolve some of the most compelling questions in nuclear physics today.

One of the most widely-accepted estimates to date placed neutron star diameters within the 16-kilometer range. But new research published in the journal Physical Review Letters this week by researchers from Goethe University Frankfurt squeezes that figure down to around 12 to 13.5 kilometers instead. 

The researchers reached their conclusion after computing and testing more than two billion theoretical models involving neutron star size constraints, and they validated their results by comparing them with gravitational wave data that was obtained during a neutron star merger.

"An approach of this type is not unusual in theoretical physics," explained Professor Luciano Rezzolla from the Institute for Theoretical Physics at Goethe University Frankfurt.

"By exploring the results for all possible values of the parameters, we can effectively reduce our uncertainties."

Related: This neutron star is far away and lacks a companion

But as you might have expected, the result exposes a significant caveat. There are certain exceptions that can cause the size of the neutron star to vary, such as the properties of the matter that it’s comprised of.

The researchers compare this caveat to the phase transition that occurs when water freezes into ice; one phase takes up more space than the other, and similar circumstances can happen with neutron star matter in the right conditions.

Related: Do neutron star collisions create heavy elements?

It should be interesting to see whether the findings hold true as additional neutron star-related gravitational wave data emerges. Future studies may pave the way for novel findings that push humanity’s understanding of the universe forward.

Source: Goethe University Frankfurt

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
MAY 01, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Satellite Images Show Accelerating Retreat of World's Glaciers
MAY 01, 2021
Satellite Images Show Accelerating Retreat of World's Glaciers
In a new study, an international team of researchers have found that almost all of the world’s glaciers are in ret ...
MAY 15, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Earth's Core has 70 Times More Hydrogen than the Oceans
MAY 15, 2021
Earth's Core has 70 Times More Hydrogen than the Oceans
Researchers from the University of Tokyo have found that under certain extreme conditions, hydrogen particles can bond s ...
JUL 11, 2021
Space & Astronomy
A Black Hole-Neutron Star Merger Makes Waves
JUL 11, 2021
A Black Hole-Neutron Star Merger Makes Waves
Researchers have found evidence of two mergers of black holes and their companion neutron stars about 900 million light- ...
JUL 26, 2021
Space & Astronomy
A Moon-Forming Disc is Observed Surrounding an Exoplanet
JUL 26, 2021
A Moon-Forming Disc is Observed Surrounding an Exoplanet
Researchers have been able to detect a disc surrounding an exoplanet called PDS 70c with the Atacama Large Millimeter/su ...
SEP 03, 2021
Space & Astronomy
Virgin Galactic's Core Spaceship is Grounded by the FAA
SEP 03, 2021
Virgin Galactic's Core Spaceship is Grounded by the FAA
Two billionaires took their ambitions to space this summer. It seems one has now been temporarily grounded. The US Feder ...
OCT 21, 2021
Chemistry & Physics
The Threat of Satellite Swarms
OCT 21, 2021
The Threat of Satellite Swarms
Gazing up at the night sky as a child, I loved to point out the satellites blinking in the night sky. Often, I could see ...
Loading Comments...