The most massive neutron star has been discovered by astronomers approximately 4600 light years away from the Earth.
The star, called PSR J0740+6620, is 2.14 times the mass of the sun and about 15 miles in diameter, making it the densest object in the universe after black holes. It is so dense that a single sugar-cube worth of a neutron star material would weigh the same as the entire human population of the Earth.
Neutron stars are corpses of the stars that died in supernova. When a star undergoes supernova -a catastrophic explosion- due to its own gravitational pull, its core collapses. If this remnant is massive enough, it may form a black hole- the densest region in the universe where even light cannot escape- while a less massive core will form a neutron star. They got their name because their gravity is strong enough to crush electrons together with protons to form neutrons.
“Neutron stars are as mysterious as they are fascinating,” says the research author Thankful Cromartie, a graduate student at the University of Virginia and Grote Reber pre-doctoral fellow at the NSF’s National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Virginia, in a statement. “These city-sized objects are essentially ginormous atomic nuclei,” he said.
J0740+6620 is a kind of rotating neutron star known as a pulsar. Pulsars emit twin beams of radio waves from their magnetic poles. The neutron star is a sort of pulsar known as a millisecond pulsar, which rapidly spins hundreds of revolutions per second, according to a report published by space.com. Astronomers measured the mass of this pulsar through a phenomenon known as “Shapiro delay.”
The researchers penned down their detailed findings on September 16 in the journal Nature Astronomy.
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