Quark Star and Strange Quark Matter
April 11, 2002 9:03 AM   Subscribe

Quark Star Observations of two stars, one unusually small and the other unusually cold, have led astronomers to think they are seeing evidence of a new form of matter and a new kind of star, one possibly made of elementary particles known as quarks and denser than any cosmic object other than a black hole. (NYT link: yada yada) Here's a related link on neutron stars and quark matter. I rather like the phrase strange quark matter... Anybody else hear about this?
posted by y2karl (8 comments total)
NPR covered this yesterday, and Slashdot is also on top of it.

I am your.... DENSITY!
posted by jazon at 9:11 AM on April 11, 2002

I love the idea of neutron stars...so strange and mysterious. I've tried to imagine what the surface of one would look like, and have tried to paint it for several years- to no avail. Are there any scientific speculations what these things look like?

I have a hard time getting my mind around quarks... amazing stuff.
posted by evanizer at 9:20 AM on April 11, 2002

As a matter of fact, I heard that on NPR as I was drifting off last night. Am I the only person in the world that finds Slashdot unreadable?
posted by y2karl at 9:38 AM on April 11, 2002

Alterslash, which I first learned about here, makes Slashdot readable.
posted by euphorb at 9:45 AM on April 11, 2002

Alterslash, which I first learned about here, makes Slashdot readable

Wow - what a treat. I had abandoned /. because of the blase editorial comments and the dog's breakfast UI. Thanks for the link euphorb.
posted by holycola at 9:55 AM on April 11, 2002

That's really funny, euphorb -- I was planning to put a link to Alterslash on my webpage with the exact caption "making Slashdot readable." Now I'll just attribute it to you.

Now I'm no astrophysicist, but whenever I think about these superdense stars, I always think of them not as very small stars, but instead as very large atoms. I'm probably way off here, but it just seems that you can't get anything as dense as a black hole going by merely packing atoms closely together. However, if you pack atomic nuclei together, you'll get almost the same mass as regular atoms, at a tiny fraction of the volume. If anybody can school me, using 100-level college physics terminology, I'd really appreciate it!
posted by Eamon at 10:33 AM on April 11, 2002

Interestingly enough Eamon, you're pretty close to the truth. Neutron stars pretty much pack netrons together, getting rid of the empty space. I read yesterday as part of the /. story that a teaspoon full of neutron star material weighs about as much as all the cars and trucks on earth combined (don't argue with me about weight/mass...it makes for a good illustration)

Holy crap.

So, if a neutron star is pretty much one big nucleus (cause it doesn't have any electrons), how can we envision a quark star? Well, as one big neutron!

Holy crap, redux.

I can't wait until they do some math on this thing. It'll probably turn out that a teaspoon full of quark star material weighs as much as the earth itself, but I don't know. I do know that protons and neutrons are made up of 3 quarks each, along with gluons to hold it all together. I'm not sure if physicists have figured out how much empty space there is inside a neutron, but that would be the determining factor, I think.

These stars are pretty close to the barrier between matter and energy, so they're REALLY fascinating. I personally thing that black holes are just the after effect from the moment that a singularity crosses that barrier in some weird quantum physics way.
posted by taumeson at 1:15 PM on April 11, 2002

The exciting thing about this discovery is that it might help answer some huge questions physicists and astronomers have struggling with. Such as, is the universe open (infinitely expanding) or closed (can only expand to a point). In recent years, physicists have come to the conclusion that about 90% of the universe is made up of dark matter (non-light emitting bodies like black holes).

The rest of it is the stuff we can see. But even if added together, the light (observed) matter and the inferred dark matter make up only 20% of the mass our universe needs to keep it from expanding forever. Quark stars, with their extremely high mass, could perhaps provide the extra glue that keeps this big old clump of matter from expanding into, well, whatever an over-expanded universe becomes.

[Brought to you by the Society For Free Quarks]
posted by gutenberg at 3:09 PM on April 11, 2002

« Older Sales of cuddly stuffed Japanese Prime Minister...   |   Something tells the The Masters isn't off to a... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments