Scientists trying to understand the structure of neutron stars say they are akin to chocolate pralines.

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Neutron stars, which were discovered 60 years ago, result from a supernova – the explosion that marks the collapse of a massive star. This, combined with gravitational collapse, compresses the star into an incredibly compact and dense form.

They have been compared to the mass of the Sun being compressed into a sphere the size of a large city but their structure has baffled experts for decades.

A team at Goethe University in Frankfurt made their “tasty new point of reference” after using hundreds of thousands of equations, which aim to describe the stars’ properties, said Sky News. The news site added that the discovery means “the Milky Way is not the only cosmic entity with chocolatey connotations”.

Scientists used the “solar mass” measurement for their breakthrough. A solar mass means the mass of the Sun, which itself is estimated at 330,000 times the mass of the Earth. “Light” neutron stars have masses smaller than about 1.7 solar masses and “seem to have a soft mantle and a stiff core, whereas ‘heavy’ neutron stars (with masses larger than 1.7 solar masses) have a stiff mantle and a soft core”, said Sky News.

Professor Luciano Rezzolla, who led the team of scientists, said: “Neutron stars apparently behave a bit like chocolate pralines” because “light stars resemble those chocolates that have a hazelnut in their centre surrounded by soft chocolate, whereas heavy stars can be considered more like those chocolates where a hard layer contains a soft filling”.

However, despite these mouth-watering comparisons, you should not even think about approaching a neutron star. Their gravitational fields are “super intense”, said GizModo. “If a human observer went near one, they’d be torn apart at an atomic level.”

Meanwhile, physicists say there are still many mysteries to unravel when it comes to neutron stars.

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Source:: The Week – All news


Milky Way’s neutron stars akin to a Ferrero Rocher praline

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