Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Superfluid found inside neutron star

When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;
What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?
Psalms 8:3-4

As reported by Andrea Sands in the Edmonton Journal of February 28, 2011:

EDMONTON — A University of Alberta astronomer and his team have uncovered “weird” physics inside the youngest-known neutron star in the Milky Way Galaxy.

Craig Heinke and his colleagues have discovered the core of the Cassiopeia A neutron star — the remains of a supernova — contains a frictionless superfluid that seems to defy gravity, as well as a superconductor that keeps electricity flowing without ever losing energy.

Scientists had long suggested this “weird state of matter” might exist inside the cores of neutron stars, but there had been no direct evidence of it before, Heinke said in an interview Sunday.

“We’ve seen superfluids in liquid helium on the Earth but this is the first time that we have direct evidence of it in the cores of neutron stars,” he said.

“We’re really understanding something that’s fundamentally important about what’s going on in the interiors of neutron stars,” Heinke said. “Neutron stars are some of the weirdest things in the universe and the things that are the most exotic in terms of how they behave, so it’s really fascinating.”

A neutron star is the ultradense core left behind after a supernova.

A supernova happens when a massive star collapses at its core and releases a blast of energy that blows off its outer layers. Such a collapse can produce a black hole or its more visible cousin, a neutron star.

“Neutron stars are the densest matter that has not disappeared forever, beyond our universe, which is what black holes are,” Heinke explained.

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