Is there anything in the bible, or in any religious text, that comes close to the story of a supernovae? A supermassive star putting forth unimaginable amounts of light and heat over its few million year lifespan, transmuting its component elements from Hydrogen and Helium all the way to Iron. And then creating this extremely bizarre stuff of neutron star matter during its death throes when it flashes so incredibly brightly that it can briefly outshine the entire galaxy it resides within and can be seen by the naked eye from so far away that it takes longer than the span of time that human beings have used tools for the light to travel that distance.
And think, every single human being alive contains within them atoms that were forged in just such an event.
To me that's far more awe inspiring than any origin fable.
With that hull you could fly past a neutron star and live, if you could survive the tidal forces.
(We'll leave aside, for now, the highly unlikely scenario of a space travelling civilization visiting a neutron star in close orbit and not taking extreme caution regarding it's tidal forces)
> Do not stand in your cargo bay when you beam up your
> neutron star material. I cannot stress this enough.
I can quite definitely state that I've never been to a party where that kind of observation would gain anyone's attention. In fact I'm picturing the audience backing away slowly, looking around for someone---anyone---else to talk to. Not sure if that's good or bad.
Good or bad? I'm not sure. At least you know some non-techies. In my social circle, being a windows user marks you as a target for victimisation. Using IE makes you an enemy. Not even knowing about OSs and their politics - let alone physics - makes you a second class subhuman non-participant.
Again, good or bad? I'm not sure. Time will tell I guess
Strange times and strange places.
Disclaimer: I am not a physicist.
When a neutron decays it makes two charged particles. But inside a neutron star those two charged particles (proton and electron) have no room to separate, instead, because they attract each other they immediately recombine.
Normally they can not recombine because of the energy gap - they need some extra energy to become a neutron (which is why hydrogen, which is also a proton and an electron doesn't just turn into a neutron).
But inside a neutron star that energy is not lost, instead it's transfered to some other set of protons and electrons, giving them the energy they need to become neutrons.
One the one hand, the neutrons are stable and not decomposing into protons, electrons, etc. by the extreme gravity. At a previous point in the star's lifecycle, it was comprised of normal atoms which contain electrons, protons, and neutrons. In atoms under typical conditions, there is a force which keeps the electrons from falling into the nucleus. Later in the star's life, as the star ran out of fuel, gravity overcame the force that normally keeps electrons from falling into the nucleus and so the protons and electrons fused to become neutrons. Hence, a neutron star.
If one were to release the gravitational pressure, the neutrons would become unstable and you'd get the decay back to protons, electrons, and the radiation that's mentioned. It would be a huge release of energy, as the article states.
The degeneracy pressure is the other force at play. It's what keeps the neutrons from collapsing onto one another and becoming a black hole. I think it's essentially the Pauli exclusion principle, but I could be wrong there.
So, the degeneracy pressure keeps them separated as individual neutrons, but gravity is what is stabilizing the neutrons themselves as neutrons.
If the star were large enough, gravity would overcome even the degeneracy pressure, resulting in a black hole.
At least, I think that's how it works.
Edit: Wikipedia isn't very helpful, I may just be too dumb to understand this paragraph:
"When bound inside of a nucleus, the instability of a single neutron to beta decay is balanced against the instability that would be acquired by the nucleus as a whole if an additional proton were to participate in repulsive interactions with the other protons that are already present in the nucleus. As such, although free neutrons are unstable, bound neutrons are not necessarily so. The same reasoning explains why protons, which are stable in empty space, may transform into neutrons when bound inside of a nucleus."
As an analogy, when you're hot (say temperature t1) you take your jacket off. However, if you are in a really cramped room with a lot of other people, you'll need to become a lot warmer (say temperature t2) to go through the hassle of removing your jacket and elbowing your neighbour in the eye. If the room is air-conditioned so that you only ever get to temperature t1.5 (where t1 < t1.5 < t2), you'll not take your jacket off, even though you would if you were in a free state.
Does that help?
As far as what critical line is crossed, I can't really say. In fact, I'm not even sure if QCD / Electroweak Theory are yet able to calculate that.
Which springs from memory matter disguised as a false tooth!
I imagine something like a black hole feeding, the asteroid flattened into a disk and heated up, jets of x-rays from the magnetic poles of the star.
I doubt it. Second neutron star on the other hand...
oh, and the performance is horrible.