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[Ars] X-Ray pulsars boil “nuclear pasta” to keep spinning

post #1 of 3
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Originally Posted by Chris Lee 
Most pulsars emit light in the microwave region, and they spin extremely fast, with periods ranging from a few seconds down to 100 ms. Some neutron stars, however, have magnetic fields that are an order of magnitude or two larger than ordinary. These stars emit X-Rays and gamma rays and are generally pretty fearsome. If we were to expect these pulsars to spin down gradually (slowing because of the processes that are emitting all that energy), then we should find them with rotational periods that cover a large range, with older ones rotating more slowly on average.

Instead, they cluster in a range between two and 12 seconds. This seems a bit bizarre, because given the age of the stars and their current rotational period, we should find stars marginally older (a few thousand years, which is the blink of an eye star-wise) that have periods of around half a minute. But they have yet to be found.

Why don't we find them? What it boils down to is that the electronic properties of the star's crust dominate the spin-down of the star. The crust of a neutron star is about 1 km thick and is quite crystalline near the outer layers. However, the deeper into the crust we go, the less well-ordered it is, until we reach a zone called the nuclear pasta region. It got that name because it is thought to consist of ordered regions that form sheets (lasagna), tubes (macaroni), and wires (spaghetti). Importantly, there is no direct evidence for this region; instead it's the outcome of modelling how the energy, pressure, and density of the star affect the ordering of its constituents.

X-Ray pulsars boil “nuclear pasta” to keep spinning


More evidence for the structure of pulsars. Too bad we will probably never be able to actually go for a visit inside of one of these miracles of nature.
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post #2 of 3
Yesh, too bad the nearest one is around 580 light years away.

But it does look delicious! loving the pasta metaphors, in fact now im hungree
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post #3 of 3
Very interesting, indeed. Star stuff always fascinates me.
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