Astronomers have found the heaviest neutron star

(ORDO NEWS) — The black widow pulsar PSR J0952-0607 is gaining 2.4 solar masses, approaching the upper limit of the size of neutron stars.

American astronomers have estimated the mass of the neutron star pulsar PSR J0952-0607, and it turned out to be a record – almost 2.5 times more than that of the Sun. Perhaps PSR J0952-0607 is approaching an upper limit, after which the neutron star begins to collapse into a black hole.

Discovered in 2017, the neutron star PSR J0952-0607 is located 20 thousand light years from the Sun, in the constellation Sextans. It rotates rapidly, throwing out narrow and powerful streams of radiation from the poles. Every 1.41 milliseconds, one of them is directed in our direction, forming a regularly flashing millisecond pulsar.

Such a high frequency is not very characteristic of neutron stars, so astronomers have long assumed that it has a small and dim, and therefore almost invisible partner – for example, a brown dwarf.

A denser and more massive neutron star pulls its matter, gaining additional mass and rotation speed. Such an alliance will sooner or later end with the complete death of the neutron star’s neighbor, which is why such pulsars are called ” black widows “.

To get a better look at the unusual system, Stanford University professor Roger Romani (Roger Romani) and his colleagues used the 10-meter telescope of the Hawaiian Keck Observatory.

After conducting spectrometric observations, scientists confirmed that a partner rotates around a neutron star at high speed (380 km / s), and the star itself has already gained about 2.35 solar masses.

PSR J0952-0607 is noticeably more massive than conventional neutron stars, which average about 1.4 solar masses.

According to the authors of the work, this is the most massive of the neutron stars, the masses of which have been established with sufficient reliability. The previous record holder – PSR J0740 + 6620 in the constellation Giraffe – gained 2.08 solar masses.

These figures are of great interest. The fact is that, theoretically, gaining more and more matter and mass, a neutron star should collapse into a black hole.

However, the boundary at which this happens is not exactly defined – for example, for non-rotating neutron stars it is estimated at 2.01-2.16 solar masses, although for rotating ones it can be noticeably higher. This stimulates the search for the heaviest neutron stars, which will help clarify the upper limit of their mass.

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