Neutron star material is ten billion times stronger than steel

Computer calculations and simulations found that materials inside neutrons stars are the strongest known material in the universe. The neutron star material is ten billion times stronger than steel.

Neutron stars are born after supernovas, an implosion that compresses an object the size of the sun to about the size of Montreal, making them “a hundred trillion times denser than anything on earth.” Their immense gravity makes their outer layers freeze solid, making them similar to earth with a thin crust enveloping a liquid core.

This will help provide better understand gravitational waves like those detected last year when two neutron stars collided. The new results even suggest that lone neutron stars might generate small gravitational waves.

With this result, many problems need to be revisited. How large a mountain can you build on a neutron star before the crust breaks and it collapses? What will it look like? And most importantly, how can astronomers observe it?”

The elastic properties of neutron star crusts are relevant for a variety of currently observable or near-future electromagnetic and gravitational wave phenomena. These phenomena may depend on the elastic properties of nuclear pasta found in the inner crust. We present large-scale classical molecular dynamics simulations where we deform nuclear pasta. We simulate idealized samples of nuclear pasta and describe their breaking mechanism. We also deform nuclear pasta that is arranged into many domains, similar to what is known for the ions in neutron star crusts. Our results show that nuclear pasta may be the strongest known material, perhaps with a shear modulus of 1030ergs per cubic centimeter and breaking strain greater than 0.1.

Arxiv – The Elasticity of Nuclear Pasta

90 thoughts on “Neutron star material is ten billion times stronger than steel”

  1. True – but it’s also a zillion times denser (as the article points out). If there were any carbon in those stars, there’d be some magnificent diamonds……

    Reply
  2. I read about this a few days ago. Basically they found that yes a neutron star can have ‘mountains’ many centimeters tall and that means we should be able to detect gravitation waves created by them spinning very fast.

    Reply
  3. True – but it’s also a zillion times denser (as the article points out). If there were any carbon in those stars there’d be some magnificent diamonds……

    Reply
  4. I read about this a few days ago. Basically they found that yes a neutron star can have ‘mountains’ many centimeters tall and that means we should be able to detect gravitation waves created by them spinning very fast.

    Reply
  5. How can it be strong if it only exists under degeneracy pressure? If it were possible to isolate it from the star, the sample would explode – it has negative strength.

    Reply
  6. How can it be strong if it only exists under degeneracy pressure? If it were possible to isolate it from the star the sample would explode – it has negative strength.

    Reply
  7. That was my reaction? How can anything be described as having a tensile strength if it only exists if it’s under compression? Now, that doesn’t mean it can’t have compressive strength, or be stiff, or incompressible, or what have you. It just can’t have tensile strength.

    Reply
  8. That was my reaction? How can anything be described as having a tensile strength if it only exists if it’s under compression?Now that doesn’t mean it can’t have compressive strength or be stiff or incompressible or what have you. It just can’t have tensile strength.

    Reply
  9. Question for those who might know: if a neutron star were to pas through or near a large cloud of hydrogen gas, might its gravity be sufficient to confine the gas a restart the fusion-fission process to become something like a red dwarf again?

    Reply
  10. Question for those who might know: if a neutron star were to pas through or near a large cloud of hydrogen gas might its gravity be sufficient to confine the gas a restart the fusion-fission process to become something like a red dwarf again?

    Reply
  11. It can still get stretched relative to the compressed state. Imagine doing a tensile test in a high pressure chamber. Intuitively, the tensile load should be equivalent to reducing pressure along one axis. But there could be all sorts of interactions in the compressed material, that would cause the behavior to deviate from what you’d expect intuitively. Under high pressure, materials often change phase, and the different phase behaves differently than the unpressurized material. That’s also the case with a neutron star, where the material degenerates, and the strong nuclear force probably has some significant effect. I didn’t read the paper in detail, but a quick scan suggests they looked at tensile and shear loads with the neutron star pressure still in place. If you removed the pressure, the results would be very different.

    Reply
  12. It can still get stretched relative to the compressed state. Imagine doing a tensile test in a high pressure chamber. Intuitively the tensile load should be equivalent to reducing pressure along one axis. But there could be all sorts of interactions in the compressed material that would cause the behavior to deviate from what you’d expect intuitively. Under high pressure materials often change phase and the different phase behaves differently than the unpressurized material. That’s also the case with a neutron star where the material degenerates and the strong nuclear force probably has some significant effect.I didn’t read the paper in detail but a quick scan suggests they looked at tensile and shear loads with the neutron star pressure still in place. If you removed the pressure the results would be very different.

    Reply
  13. I read a book once in which neutron stars were teleported into the center of gas giants in order to create short-lived (i.e. a few million years) stars.

    Reply
  14. I read a book once in which neutron stars were teleported into the center of gas giants in order to create short-lived (i.e. a few million years) stars.

    Reply
  15. Yeah, it can happen. Hydrogen accumulates on the surface until there’s enough, fuses, then it accumulates again. Not a steady state process, more like a flashbulb going off periodically.

    Reply
  16. Yeah it can happen. Hydrogen accumulates on the surface until there’s enough fuses then it accumulates again. Not a steady state process more like a flashbulb going off periodically.

    Reply
  17. Yeah, it can happen. Hydrogen accumulates on the surface until there’s enough, fuses, then it accumulates again. Not a steady state process, more like a flashbulb going off periodically.

    Reply
  18. Yeah it can happen. Hydrogen accumulates on the surface until there’s enough fuses then it accumulates again. Not a steady state process more like a flashbulb going off periodically.

    Reply
  19. I read a book once in which neutron stars were teleported into the center of gas giants in order to create short-lived (i.e. a few million years) stars.

    Reply
  20. I read a book once in which neutron stars were teleported into the center of gas giants in order to create short-lived (i.e. a few million years) stars.

    Reply
  21. It can still get stretched relative to the compressed state. Imagine doing a tensile test in a high pressure chamber. Intuitively, the tensile load should be equivalent to reducing pressure along one axis. But there could be all sorts of interactions in the compressed material, that would cause the behavior to deviate from what you’d expect intuitively. Under high pressure, materials often change phase, and the different phase behaves differently than the unpressurized material. That’s also the case with a neutron star, where the material degenerates, and the strong nuclear force probably has some significant effect. I didn’t read the paper in detail, but a quick scan suggests they looked at tensile and shear loads with the neutron star pressure still in place. If you removed the pressure, the results would be very different.

    Reply
  22. It can still get stretched relative to the compressed state. Imagine doing a tensile test in a high pressure chamber. Intuitively the tensile load should be equivalent to reducing pressure along one axis. But there could be all sorts of interactions in the compressed material that would cause the behavior to deviate from what you’d expect intuitively. Under high pressure materials often change phase and the different phase behaves differently than the unpressurized material. That’s also the case with a neutron star where the material degenerates and the strong nuclear force probably has some significant effect.I didn’t read the paper in detail but a quick scan suggests they looked at tensile and shear loads with the neutron star pressure still in place. If you removed the pressure the results would be very different.

    Reply
  23. Question for those who might know: if a neutron star were to pas through or near a large cloud of hydrogen gas, might its gravity be sufficient to confine the gas a restart the fusion-fission process to become something like a red dwarf again?

    Reply
  24. Question for those who might know: if a neutron star were to pas through or near a large cloud of hydrogen gas might its gravity be sufficient to confine the gas a restart the fusion-fission process to become something like a red dwarf again?

    Reply
  25. That was my reaction? How can anything be described as having a tensile strength if it only exists if it’s under compression? Now, that doesn’t mean it can’t have compressive strength, or be stiff, or incompressible, or what have you. It just can’t have tensile strength.

    Reply
  26. That was my reaction? How can anything be described as having a tensile strength if it only exists if it’s under compression?Now that doesn’t mean it can’t have compressive strength or be stiff or incompressible or what have you. It just can’t have tensile strength.

    Reply
  27. It can still get stretched relative to the compressed state. Imagine doing a tensile test in a high pressure chamber. Intuitively, the tensile load should be equivalent to reducing pressure along one axis. But there could be all sorts of interactions in the compressed material, that would cause the behavior to deviate from what you’d expect intuitively. Under high pressure, materials often change phase, and the different phase behaves differently than the unpressurized material. That’s also the case with a neutron star, where the material degenerates, and the strong nuclear force probably has some significant effect.

    I didn’t read the paper in detail, but a quick scan suggests they looked at tensile and shear loads with the neutron star pressure still in place. If you removed the pressure, the results would be very different.

    Reply
  28. How can it be strong if it only exists under degeneracy pressure? If it were possible to isolate it from the star, the sample would explode – it has negative strength.

    Reply
  29. How can it be strong if it only exists under degeneracy pressure? If it were possible to isolate it from the star the sample would explode – it has negative strength.

    Reply
  30. True – but it’s also a zillion times denser (as the article points out). If there were any carbon in those stars, there’d be some magnificent diamonds……

    Reply
  31. True – but it’s also a zillion times denser (as the article points out). If there were any carbon in those stars there’d be some magnificent diamonds……

    Reply
  32. I read about this a few days ago. Basically they found that yes a neutron star can have ‘mountains’ many centimeters tall and that means we should be able to detect gravitation waves created by them spinning very fast.

    Reply
  33. I read about this a few days ago. Basically they found that yes a neutron star can have ‘mountains’ many centimeters tall and that means we should be able to detect gravitation waves created by them spinning very fast.

    Reply
  34. Question for those who might know: if a neutron star were to pas through or near a large cloud of hydrogen gas, might its gravity be sufficient to confine the gas a restart the fusion-fission process to become something like a red dwarf again?

    Reply
  35. That was my reaction? How can anything be described as having a tensile strength if it only exists if it’s under compression?

    Now, that doesn’t mean it can’t have compressive strength, or be stiff, or incompressible, or what have you. It just can’t have tensile strength.

    Reply
  36. I read about this a few days ago. Basically they found that yes a neutron star can have ‘mountains’ many centimeters tall and that means we should be able to detect gravitation waves created by them spinning very fast.

    Reply

Leave a Comment