THE heaviest star in the universe has been discovered — and it’s only 15 miles wide.
It is more than twice the mass of the sun, meaning a sugar cube of it would weigh 100million tons. That is the same weight as the entire human population.
Artist impression of the pulse from a massive neutron star being delayed by the passage of a white dwarf star between the neutron star and Earth[/caption]
Astro boffins Maura McLaughlin and Duncan Lorimer studied the heaviest star in the universe[/caption]
Known as a neutron star, it is the compressed remains of a supernova, an exploding star, and is 700,000 times heavier than Earth.
It is also a pulsar, emitting radio waves like a lighthouse as it spins.
Neutron stars form when the outer part of a giant sun explodes and the core implodes. Its protons and electrons melt into each other to form neutrons.
Named J0740+6620, it is 2.17 times the mass of the sun — which is 333,000 times the mass of the Earth.
It is “the most massive neutron star ever detected — almost too massive to exist”, say the US team.
The measurement approaches the limits of how compact a single object can be without crushing itself into a black hole.
It was detected about 4,600 light years from Earth by the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. One light year is about six trillion miles.
Scientist Thankful Cromartie, of Virginia University, said: “Neutron stars are as mysterious as they are fascinating. These city-sized objects are ginormous atomic nuclei.”
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Colleague Prof Maura McLaughlin, who studied the star with Duncan Lorimer, said: “These stars are very exotic.”
Neutron stars have temperatures of a million degrees, are highly radioactive and have intense magnetic fields.
Mass is the amount of matter in a material while weight is a measure of how much gravity acts upon that mass.
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