Neutron stars more abundant, black holes rarer than earlier believed

January 15th, 2008 - 3:41 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Jan 15 (ANI): A new research developed using the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, has suggested that neutron stars can be considerably more massive than previously believed, which makes it less likely for them to form into black holes.

The matter at the center of a neutron star is highly incompressible. Our new measurements of the mass of neutron stars will help nuclear physicists understand the properties of super-dense matter, said Paulo Freire, an astronomer from the observatory.

Because astronomers have now theorized that the neutron stars are much bigger than earlier believed, they have also increased the mass limit for when neutron stars turn into black holes.

It also means that to form a black hole, more mass is needed than previously thought. Thus, in our universe, black holes might be more rare and neutron stars slightly more abundant, said Freire.

When the cores of massive stars run out of nuclear fuel, their enormous gravitation then causes their collapse then becomes a supernova. The core, typically with a mass 1.4 times larger than that of the sun is compressed into a neutron star.

These extreme objects have a radius about 10 to 16 kilometers and a density on the order of a billion tons per cubic centimeter.

According to Freire, a neutron star is like one single, giant atomic nucleus with about 460,000 times the mass of the Earth.

Earlier, astronomers had thought the neutron stars needed a maximum mass between 1.6 and 2.5 suns in order to collapse and become black holes.

However, this new research shows that neutron stars remain neutron stars between the mass of 1.9 and up to possibly 2.7 suns.

The matter at the center of the neutron stars is the densest in the universe. It is one to two orders of magnitude denser than matter in the atomic nucleus. It is so dense we dont know what it is made out of, said Freire.

For that reason, we have at present no idea of how large or how massive neutron stars can be, he added. (ANI)

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