It is said that pulsar are probably the most reliable timekeepers in the universe.
They are collapsed neutron stars with the super-dense cores of once-massive stars that long ago destroyed themselves in supernova events. Before collapse they had a total of between 10 and 29 solar masses Neutron stars are the smallest and densest stars known to exist.
Since their discovery in the 1960s, scientists have sought to answer an important question:
How massive can neutron stars actually become?
Neutron stars are the ultra-dense cores left behind after a massive star comes to the end of its life and explodes.
In contrast to black holes, these stars cannot gain in mass arbitrarily; past a certain limit there is no physical force in nature that can counter their enormous gravitational force.
For the first time, a strict upper limit for the maximum mass of neutron stars, has been calculated by astrophysicists at Goethe University Frankfurt – Professor Luciano Rezzolla, physicist, senior fellow at the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS) and professor of Theoretical Astrophysics at Goethe University Frankfurt and his students Elias Most and Lukas Weih.
The results show that with an accuracy of a few percent, the maximum mass of non-rotating neutron stars cannot exceed 2.16 solar masses.
Most neutron stars have a mass of around 1.4 times that of the sun, massive examples are also known, such as the pulsar PSR J0348+0432 with 2.01 solar masses.
The density of these stars is enormous, as if the entire Himalayas were compressed into a beer mug. However, there are indications that a neutron star with a maximum mass would collapse to a black hole if even just a single neutron were added.
“The beauty of theoretical research is that it can make predictions. Theory, however, desperately needs experiments to narrow down some of its uncertainties,” said the lead author of the paper, Professor Luciano Rezzolla, in a statement.
“It’s therefore quite remarkable that the observation of a single binary neutron star merger that occurred millions of light years away combined with the universal relations discovered through our theoretical work have allowed us to solve a riddle that has seen so much speculation in the past.”
Original story – here.