Dec 30, 2023

Neutron Stars’ Inner Mysteries: A Glimpse Into Quark-Matter Cores

Posted by in categories: particle physics, space, supercomputing

New theoretical analysis places the likelihood of massive neutron stars hiding cores of deconfined quark matter between 80 and 90 percent. The result was reached through massive supercomputer runs utilizing Bayesian statistical inference.

Neutron star cores contain matter at the highest densities reached in our present-day Universe, with as much as two solar masses of matter compressed inside a sphere of 25 km in diameter. These astrophysical objects can indeed be thought of as giant atomic nuclei, with gravity compressing their cores to densities exceeding those of individual protons and neutrons manyfold.

These densities make neutron stars interesting astrophysical objects from the point of view of particle and nuclear physics. A longstanding open problem concerns whether the immense central pressure of neutron stars can compress protons and neutrons into a new phase of matter, known as cold quark matter. In this exotic state of matter, individual protons and neutrons no longer exist.

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