Sunday, June 29, 2008

A Quark Star?

And you thought a Neutron star was a strange beast. Or how about this.... Solar masses over 1.5 solar collapse into a singularity after going super-nova. Well if you held to that last theory, something just happened that could throw a monkey wrench into that one. Astronomers in Canada and at the California Institute of Technology's (Caltech) Palomar Observatory have been studying data from three explosions that are each 100 times brighter than the average super-nova. They feel they are witness to creation of a previously unobserved and new class of objects, quark stars. A quark star is a hypothetical type of star composed of ultra dense quark matter, the fundamental components of protons and neutrons, which make up the nucleus of atoms. In the formation of a quark star, an ultra-massive neutron star is still too massive to maintain it's structure and the neutrons undergo conversion into their constituent parts which liberates copious amounts of energy and creating material so dense as to be theoretical.

The problem in this whole scenario? Many scientists have a great deal of difficulty in conceptualizing neutron stars. Even more rail against the wholesale collapse into a black whole and instead give evidence that the neutron star is the end point of a star' collapse. As you can imagine both camps are going to have a hard time swallowing a structure that doesn't seem to fit into either of their models.

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