Thursday, November 7, 2013

Life Beyond Earth: A Day on a Neutron Star:

Let’s talk about what it would be like to spend a day on a neutron star. I know that this might not seem like the best vacation spot; after all, neutron stars are rather small. However, these objects are remarkable, and also terribly bizarre (imagine our Sun being compressed to the size of Chicago, and you begin to understand just how remarkably bizarre neutron stars are). Even though they are tiny, typically only about 25 km (15 mi) in diameter, neutron stars are more massive than our sun.

And of course, a small diameter + a high mass = super high density.

In fact, aside from black holes, neutron stars are the densest objects in the universe. An average neutron star will have a density around 5 x 1017 kg/m3 (which is roughly the equivalent of all of humanity being squashed into a single sugar cube). But unfortunately, your vacation to this remarkably bizarre object will be a bit short. You see, most neutron stars rotate rather fast. Excessively fast, in fact. A typical neutron star rotates about 40,000 times a minute; since a “day” is determined by how long it takes an object to complete one rotation, a day on a neutron star whizzes by in just a fraction of a second.

So only plan on spending a day on a neutron star if you have super great time management skills; by the time you landed, you"d have to leave as your day would be over.

Another remarkably bizarre part of a neutron star is the crust. Although it’s not very thick, generally about 1km or .6miles, the crust is approximately 100 billion times stronger than steel. So you shouldn’t go to a neutron star if you hope to spend your day building fantastical sandcastles—the crust of the star is simply too strong for you to break through with your tiny ineffectual shovel. Alas, neutronstar-castles will never be a thing.

To learn more about neutron stars, and what a day on one would be like, see:

Image source:

No comments:

Post a Comment