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Forbidden chocolates: Check out this delicious model of neutron stars

Tuesday, November 22nd 2022, 11:02 am - There's still a lot to learn about these celestial objects.

Researchers have created a model depicting the interior of neutron stars, and it looks delicious. And, judging by the quotes from the (no doubt sweet-toothed) authors of the study detailing the findings, that was intentional.

Low-Res KosmischePralinen web.jpg The study of the sound speed has revealed that heavy neutron stars have a stiff mantle and a soft core, while light neutron stars have a soft mantle and a stiff core – much like different chocolate pralines. Photo and caption: Peter Kiefer & Luciano Rezzolla


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Does this picture have you thinking of sweet treats? you aren't alone. In fact, neutron stars apparently have a lot in common with chocolate.

But first, let's back up. What exactly is a neutron star?

It's a type of ultra-dense, compact stellar remnant, mostly made of neutrons, that can form after the death of a massive supergiant star.

This new study developed more than a million equations to help peer inside neutron stars.

"This result is very interesting because it gives us a direct measure of how compressible the centre of neutron stars can be," study co-author Luciano Rezzolla says in a statement. "Neutron stars apparently behave a bit like chocolate pralines: light stars resemble those chocolates that have a hazelnut in their centre surrounded by soft chocolate, whereas heavy stars can be considered more like those chocolates where a hard layer contains a soft filling."

The equations used in the study helped physicists uncover previously unexplained properties of neutron stars. Based on the findings, researchers believe regardless of their mass, the stars "very likely" have a radius of only 12 km. The data will also provide a better understanding of their gravitational fields.

We still have a lot to learn about these celestial objects, but in the meantime, why not treat yourself today? After all, life is sweet - and apparently, so are the stars.


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