This Star Is The Size Of Manhattan, But Heavier Than The Sun

manhattan and a neutron star A neutron star is the densest object astronomers can observe directly, crushing half a million times Earth’s mass into a sphere about 12 miles across, or similar in size to Manhattan Island, as shown in this illustration.

The awesome illustration above, from NASA, shows how Manhattan compares to the size of a Neutron star — they are both about 12 miles across.

Neutron stars are the crushed up core of massive stars, after they run out of fuel. Without a steady energy source, the star collapses under it’s own weight and explodes out it’s outer layers. They spin up to 43,000 times per minute and have a magnetic fields a trillion times stronger than Earth’s.

Sadly, we could never actually see this happen since neutron stars are so incredibly dense the Earth would be destroyed in it’s presence. A teaspoon of a neutron star’s matter would weigh a billion tons on Earth.

The illustration came from a NASA press release, based on a new Nature paper published May 30. The study details a weird phenomenon that the Swift X-ray Telescope observed — an intense X-ray burst, then sudden slowing of a neutron star’s spin.

They called the phenomena an “anti-glitch” because it’s the opposite of more normal “glitches” observed in neutron stars that rapidly speed up.

If we can figure out why the star is acting so weird, it could give physicists some insight into the extreme physics in these denser-than-an-atomic-nucleus but teeny-tiny stars. Here’s what the weirdo, named 1E 2259+586 and located about 10,000 light-years away, looks like:

neutron star and supernova remnantThe magnetar 1E 2259+586 shines a brilliant blue-white in this false-colour X-ray image of the CTB 109 supernova remnant, which lies about 10,000 light-years away toward the constellation Cassiopeia.

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