The larger-than-life qualities of a teaspoonful of neutron star

George C By George C, 24th Apr 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/1ym3_vv1/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Science>Astronomy

Neutron stars are fragments of gigantic stars that blew up into supernovae. When compared to earth, these objects are inferior in size but their gravity is insanely high.

The larger-than-life qualities of a teaspoonful of neutron star

Neutron stars are fragments of gigantic stars that blew up into supernovae. When compared to earth, these objects are inferior in size but their gravity is insanely high. The stars are so compact that they are held up by degeneracy pressure (a quantum-mechanical phenomenon); otherwise, they could sink into a black hole.

Weight against entire human population

Neutron stars form part of the exotic objects in the universe, and the peculiarity doesn’t end there. If we were to place a teaspoon of neutron star on the scales and compare it to the weight of the entire human population on Earth, it would tip the scales. The extra-terrestrial objects weigh an astounding 10 million tons. In other words, all humans on Earth could fit into a teaspoon. Earth also plays second fiddle in terms of magnetic intensity - they are trillion times superior.

Neutron stars vs the Sun

So, how do these wonder stars measure up against the sun? Incredibly, neutron stars with a radius of only around 12–14 kilometers (7 miles) dwarf the sun in terms of weight. The stars are twice the sun’s weight (2.6×1014 to 4.1×1014). These hot objects are made of neutrons and have a larger mass than protons. Fortunately, the degeneracy pressure, which maintains their delicate balance, is notoriously unyielding. If a huge object with a neutron star core collapses, the debris can generate a massive explosion capable of outshining an entire galaxy.

Neutron stars vs spaceships

Traveling to a planet with minute quantities of neutron stars is a mission impossible, thanks to the mind-boggling intensity of gravity and magnetic fields. A spaceship launched from earth will be pulverized by a spoonful of stars as they twirl at thousands of times per second. The ship’s ferromagnetic materials and computer systems cannot withstand the larger-than-life magnetic fields. This is in addition to pulsars, which brandish a high-energy radiation beam that swoops around every fraction of a second. The pulsars act as a formidable defense system for the neutron stars.

Visibility

In terms of visibility, the stars are ten billion times fainter for both the naked eye and the Hubble Space Telescope. For this reason, it is common for observers to make use of radio pulsars. On the other hand, neutron stars that are part of a binary emit powerful X-rays capable of illuminating much brighter than the sun. Matter that spirals around the hot and volatile surfaces of these objects generates incredible energy, similar to that produced by five megaton hydrogen bombs. Therefore, taking a spaceship anywhere near a spoonful neutron star is like teleporting a nuclear device in your direction. This applies even if the star is already decaying.

Structure of neutron stars

The atmosphere of these fascinating stars is imagined to be a couple micrometers thick and magnetic fields play a central role in their dynamism. The crust is very smooth but rigid owing to enormous gravity. The outer core features matter composed of ordinary atomic nuclei. However, scientists are yet to fully understand all the properties of the core. Some suspect that it contains peculiar matter known as quark-gluon plasma. These extra-terrestrial objects also boast an escape velocity of 100,000 km/s (62,137 miles/second), which means Earth is only 11.3 km/s (7 miles/second) away. The impact of being hit by one of these babies not only destroys component atoms but also renders all matter identical.

Tags

Earth, Galaxy, Humans, Neutron Stars, Sun

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