Space Scoop: The Mysterious Afterlife of Stellar Giants


47 Tucanae: The Mysterious Afterlife of Stellar
Giants Narrator (April Hobart, CXC): Neutron stars
are the ultra-dense cores left behind after a massive star reaches the end of its life
and explodes. The star’s outer layers are blasted away in the explosion, but material
at the centre of the star collapses in on itself. This forming a tightly packed ball
of material and what we end up with is the densest (meaning ‘most tightly packed’) object
known in the entire Universe outside of a black hole: a neutron star! This new space picture shows a group of stars
called a globular cluster. These are some of the oldest objects in space – almost as
old as the Universe itself! This means many of the stars within have already lived their
lives. The most massive have long since exploded, leaving behind several neutron stars. Using a neutron star within this cluster,
along with several others, astronomers have worked out the relationship between the stars’
mass (how much material they have) and how big they are. The new data shows that an average neutron
star, with the same mass as around one and a half of our Sun’s, would be around 12 km
across. That’s about the size of a town! With all this material packed down into such a
small space, neutron stars are unbelievably dense objects. The pressure at their centers
is over ten trillion trillion times the pressure required to form diamonds inside the Earth.

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About the Author: Emmet Marks

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