Earth and Space

Nuclear pasta

Stories from Physics for 11-14 14-16 IOP RESOURCES

A star with a mass similar to the Sun may form a neutron star with a diameter of around 20 km. The surface of such a neutron star is modelled as consisting of a form of iron 10,000 times as dense as iron on Earth and beneath the surface is a mantle-like layer of liquid neutrons. The layers of the inner crust of neutron stars can undergo a series of transitions between different nuclear structures; the resemblance of these structures to spaghetti and lasagne has led researchers to refer to them as ‘nuclear pasta’.

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