Nuclear noodles are probably the hardest material in the Universe

A team of Canadian and U.S. scientists calculated the strength of material deep in the crust of neutron stars. According to research, nuclear noodles, as they are referred to, are probably the hardest material in the Universe.

Matthew Caplan of McGill University, along with colleagues at Indiana University and the California Institute of Technology, have conducted calculations and computer simulations of the extremely dense material, whichory is found in the crust of neutron stars. According to the calculations, the nuclear noodle is 10 billionow times stronger than steel.

Neutron stars are one of the final stages of theoIn the life cycle of high-mass stars. There are roalso some of the densest objectoin the Universe. They got their name from their dominant component – neutrons. Such stars are the result of a supernova explosion. The high pressure created during the collapse of the nucleus of a supernova causes the distances between nuclei and electrons to decrease, and the electrons themselves combine with protons as a result, creating matter consisting of mainlyownie with neutronow.

– The hardness of the crust of a neutron star, detailedolnie its inner part has to do with a large number of problemsoIn astrophysics, but unfortunately it is not well understood – admitted Caplan, head of theowny author of the paper submitted and accepted for publication in the „Physical Review Letters”, and now available in the preprint archiveoin arXiv.

A supernova explosion can compress a sun-sized object to the size of a large city. Such a high density makes the material, whichory formed neutron star, known as a nuclear noodle, has a unique structure.

As you can easily imagine, reproducing this kind of density in a laboratory setting is unlikely, at least at present. But scientists have access to a powerful computerow so they can build models and run simulations, which can be considered a substitute for lab.

This unbelievably high density compresses and deforms atomic nucleioin creating structures thatore scientists porownali to… pasta. Hence the name of this extremely condensed matter, ktora forms inside the crust of neutron stars. Someore structures are flattened into sheets, like lasagna, someore look like bucatini tubes, there are also those resembling spaghetti or gnocchi.

Photo. McGill University

Researchers created models of simulated nuclear noodles and applied pressure to see how the material would react. They found that the force required to break the nuclear noodle was 10 billionow times larger than that needed to break steel. Although the neutron star’s crust had previously been calculated to be extremely hard, the matter below turned out to be even harder.

The researchers also showed that the extremely dense regions below the neutron star’s crust are nierouniformly distributed and irregular in nature.

The results of the work of scientistsow can pomoc astrophysicists better understand gravitational waves, such as those detected last year when two neutron stars collided. According to calculations, even lone neutron stars can produce small gravitational waves.

– Our results are valuable to the astronomeroIn studying neutron stars. Their outer layer is a part thatorÄ… we actually observe, so we need to understand it in order to interpret astronomical observations of these stars – Caplan said.

– Many interesting physical phenomena occur under extreme conditions, so understanding the physical properties of a neutron star is how scientists test their theories and models. Our results require re-examining many of the problemsow – Caplan added.

Sourceobackground: McGill University, Science News, fot. Casey Reed/ Penn State University/ Wikimedia Commons