Dubbed J0740+6620, the rapidly spinning pulsar packs 2.17 times the mass of our Sun (330,000 times that of Earth) right into a sphere only about 15 miles throughout.
That’s darn close to the limit of how massive and compact a single object can turn into without crushing itself into a black hole, according to West Virginia University, which assisted in the statement.
WVU researchers helped spot the star some 4,600 light-years from Earth utilizing the nearby Green Bank Telescope.
This is reported in the journal Nature Astronomy.
Like most great discoveries, J0740+6620 is undoubtedly one of many serendipitous results, physics, and astronomy professor Maura McLaughlin stated.
“At Green Bank, the scientists are attempting to detect gravitational waves from pulsars,” which requires the scientists to observe “a lot of millisecond pulsars,” she continued. “This (the discovery) shouldn’t be a gravitational wave detection paper, however certainly one of many essential results which have arisen from our observations.”
As explained by Einstein’s general theory of relativity, gravity from a white dwarf companion star warps the space around it, forcing pulsar vibrations to travel just a wee bit farther via the distorted space.
That delay tells scientists the mass of the white dwarf, which in turn provides a mass measurement of the neutron star.
In this case, that measurement is more than two times that of the Sun.
Consider it like this: A single sugar cube-worth of neutron-star material would weigh 100 million tons on Earth or about the identical as the entire human population.
Neutron stars are the compressed stays of massive stars gone supernova; they’re created when giant stars die in supernovae and their cores collapse, causing protons and electrons to melt into each other to form neutrons.