Newfound Space Object is Unlike Anything Astronomers Already Know

Newfound Space Object is Unlike Anything Astronomers Already Know

Once again, astronomers deal with that situation when some textbooks need to be rewritten. There are around one billion neutron stars in the Milky Way galaxy, but from time to time, astronomers remain speechless at these objects. It’s also the case this time.

A newfound neutron star by a team of astronomers that was led by Victor Doroshenko of Eberhard Karls University of Tübingen is far lighter than astronomers even thought possible. The object challenges the scientists’ understanding of such stars. Furthermore, the neutron star in question might be composed largely of quarks.

HESS J1731-347 is only 77% the mass of the Sun

HESS J1731-347 is the name of the neutron star in question, and it has a mass that’s only 77% that of the Sun. The neutron star also has a radius that measures 6.2 miles. Both the mass and radius of the object are not in accordance with how astronomers usually define a neutron star.

The study paper writes as MSN quotes:

Our mass estimate makes the central compact object in HESS J1731-347 the lightest neutron star known to date, and potentially a more exotic object — that is, a ‘strange star’ candidate.

The research team used data gathered by the Gaia spacecraft of the European Space Agency in order to determine the mass of the neutron star. Usually, neutron stars are so incredibly massive that a single teaspoon of their material would weigh 10 million tons. These celestial wonders also generally have a diameter of 12 miles. You can easily conclude for yourself that HESS J1731-347 is nowhere near that description.

Neutron stars are usually born after supergiant stars explode into supernovae. 

The new study was published in Nature Astronomy. 


Cristian Antonescu

Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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