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