"Nuclear pasta" ranked strongest material in the universe
"Nuclear pasta" ranked strongest material in the universe
21 September, 2018, 17:25
Neutron stars are formed when massive stars collapse under the weight of its own gravity.
The strongest material in the known universe is a unusual form of pasta - it's not campanelle, gnocchi, or penne, but rather an esoteric-like concoction called nuclear pasta, which is formed by the ungodly pressure found inside a neutron star. According to NASA, a sugar cube-sized piece of a neutron star would weigh about the same as Mount Everest. The simulations showed that the enormous densities and unusual shapes have made nuclear material inside neutron stars so dense that it is likely the strongest material in the entire universe.
It was uncovered by Matthew Caplan, a postdoctoral research fellow at McGill University, and his colleagues from Indiana University and the California Institute of Technology.
Through the huge gravity of the outer layers of neutron stars solidify to form a solid crust around the liquid core.
Together, the researchers said these enormous densities and unusual shapes make nuclear pasta incredibly stiff. They successfully ran the largest computer simulations ever conducted of neutron star crusts, becoming the first to describe how these break. Prior studies have found evidence that the nuclear material deep inside the crust of neutron stars is incredibly strong.
"This allowed us to calculate how much they are durable".
According to phys.org, the nuclear pasta would be around 10 billion times stronger than steel.
"A lot of interesting physics is going on here under extreme conditions and so understanding the physical properties of a neutron star is a way for scientists to test their theories and models", Dr. Caplan noted. It also opens up the possibility of observing gravitational waves. A neutron star is one of a few different outcomes for a star that's reached the late stages of its life, the others being a black hole and a white dwarf.
The findings, accepted for publication in Physical Review Letters, could help astrophysicists better understand gravitational waves like those detected previous year when two neutron stars collided. "Knowing the strength of the neutron star crust is like knowing the strength of rocks on earth; it tells you about how big earthquakes can be and how tall mountains can get", Caplan said.
"Our results are valuable for astronomers who study neutron stars. Maybe I'll try spaghetti next", Caplan said.
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