Internal structure of a neutron star


A neutron star is the imploded core of a massive star produced by a supernova explosion. A typical mass of a neutron star is 1.4 times the mass of the sun, with a radius of about 5 miles, and the density of a neutron.

The diagram below shows a slice of a neutron star. The rigid outer crust and superfluid inner core may be responsible for "pulsar glitches" where the crust cracks or slips on the superfluid neutrons to create "starquakes."

Notice the density and radius scales at left and right, respectively. The radius of a neutron star is slightly larger than Mt. Everest. But, according to astronomer and author Frank Shu, "A sugarcube of neutron-star stuff on Earth would weigh as much as all of humanity! This illustrates again how much of humanity is empty space."

Neutron stars can be observed as pulsars if they have strong magnetic fields.

Internal structure of a neutron star



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Last modified: Thursday, 26-Jun-2003 13:48:45 EDT