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Atoms As Big As Mountains — Neutron Stars Explained

Atoms As Big As Mountains — Neutron Stars Explained


Neutron stars are one of the
most extreme things in the universe. They’re like giant atom cores. Kilometers in diameter,
unbelievably dense and violent. But how can something
like this even exist? The life of a star is dominated
by two forces being in balance. Its own gravity and the radiation
pressure of its fusion reaction. In the core of stars, hydrogen
is fused into helium. Eventually, the hydrogen
in the core is exhausted. If the star is massive enough,
helium is now fused into carbon. The cores of these massive
stars become layered like onions, as heavier and heavier atomic
nuclei build up at the center. Carbon is fused into neon, which leads
to oxygen, which leads to silicon. Eventually, the fusion reaction hits iron,
which cannot fuse into another element. When the fusion stops, the
radiation pressure drops rapidly. The star is no longer in balance, and if its core mass exceeds
about 1.4 solar masses, a catastrophic collapse takes place. The outer part of the core reaches
velocities of up to 70,000 km/s, as it collapses towards
the center of the star. Now, only the fundamental
forces inside an atom are left to fight the
gravitational collapse. The quantum-mechanical repulsion
of electrons is overcome, and electrons and protons
fuse into neutrons packed as densely as an atomic nucleus. The outer layers of the star
are catapulted into space in a violent supernova explosion. So, now we have a neutron star! Its mass is between 1 and 3 Suns, but compressed to an object
about 25 kilometers wide! And 500,000 times the mass
of Earth, in this tiny ball that’s roughly the diameter of Manhattan. It’s so dense that one cubic
centimeter of neutron star contains the same mass as an
iron cube 700 meters across. That’s roughly 1 billion tons,
as massive as Mount Everest, in a space the size of a sugar cube. Neutron star gravity
is pretty impressive too! If you were to drop an object from
1 meter over the surface, it would hit the star in one microsecond
and accelerate up to 7.2 million km/h. The surface is superflat, with
irregularities of 5 millimeters maximum, with a superthin atmosphere of hot plasma. The surface temperature
is about 1 million kelvin, compared to 5,800 kelvin for our Sun. Let’s look inside the neutron star! The crust is extremely hard
and is most likely made of an iron atom nuclei lattice with a sea
of electrons flowing through them. The closer we get to the core, the more
neutrons and the fewer protons we see until there’s just an incredibly dense
soup of indistinguishable neutrons. The cores of neutron stars
are very, very weird. We are not sure what their properties are,
but our closest guess is superfluid neutron degenerate matter or some kind of ultradense quark
matter called quark-gluon plasma. That does not make any sense
in the traditional way and can only exist in such an
ultraextreme environment. In many ways, a neutron star
is similar to a giant atom core. The most important difference is that atom
cores are held together by strong interaction
and neutron stars by gravity. As if all this wasn’t extreme enough, let’s take a look at
a few other properties. Neutron stars spin very, very fast,
young ones several times per second. And if there’s a poor star nearby
to feed the neutron star, it can rotate up to several
hundred times per second. Like the object PSRJ1748-2446ad. It spins at approximately
252 million km/h. This is so fast that the star has
a rather strange shape. We call these objects pulsars, because
they emit a strong radio signal. And the magnetic field of a neutron star is roughly 8 trillion times stronger
than the magnetic field of Earth. So strong that atoms get bent
when they enter its influence. Okay, I think we got the point across. Neutron stars are some
of the most extreme, but also some of the
coolest objects in the universe. Hopefully, we will one day send spaceships
to learn more about them and take some neat pictures! But we shouldn’t get too close! Subtitles by the Amara.org community


Reader Comments

  1. Nasa employee: we found a new star boys, what should we name it?

    Nasa namer or owner: just bash the the keyboard 10 times, should do the job

  2. Guys carbon atoms smash to form oxygen which in turn forms neon…. Carbon doesn't form neon and then oxygen😅

  3. I found a very cool galaxy, i name it XWA87388367827. JKIIP2S8JAbccdFHH9892882888288882882-HH(type 30929)-nllkkkeuj2555222Hhhsj

  4. All your astronomy related videos deserves my personal appreciation. I feel like contributing Kurzgesgt when i get into a job. This channel actually brought a biggest change in my life as well as addiction.
    -From India

  5. Star fusion creates carbon in the core. All organic matter was created by carbon. You are organic matter. You are star stuff.

  6. Efohsfvihdvohjefkj drgjnqbihhilaefbijlzvijlbaevhoaekvjohzdfilhg4635243711827456
    NASA: yeah thats a pretty good name

  7. Coming here after the new video about Neutron Stars, I can say there are remarkable improvements, especially in the visual aspect, which is certainly impressive considering that this video is still very high quality.

    Pat yourself on the back Kurzgesagt, you guys deserve it.

  8. 0:56 “…which cannot fuse into another element…”

    Make it as simple as possible, but no simpler. Iron cannot generate fusion energy. But if it couldn’t fuse, where would gold or uranium come from? 🤔🧐 Well, iron can and does fuse; that’s it.

  9. 5 years ago: Nope
    4 years ago: Hey interested?
    3 years ago: You like science?
    2 years ago: Maybe not
    1 year ago: Definitely not
    Now: Hey kid. You like this recommendation?

  10. I like both this and the new Neutron Star video, but I gotta to say, even though the soundtrack is great in both, this one takes the 1st place for me. Amazing work as always <3

  11. Ogres are onions
    Onions have layers
    Kurzgesagt said the massive stars are layers

    So that means
    Ogres are stars

    An "all star"

  12. Aus welchem Grund hat dieser Kanal ein deutsches Wort im Kanalnamen? Ja klar FUNK Gruppe, sollte aber leicht erklärbar sein oder?

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