How large is a neutron star? Previous estimates varied from eight to sixteen kilometres. Astrophysicists at the Goethe University Frankfurt and the FIAS have now succeeded in determining the size of neutron stars to within 1.5 kilometres by using an elaborate statistical approach supported by data from the measurement of gravitational waves. The researchers’ report appears in the current issue of Physical Review Letters.
Astrophysicists at FIAS and Goethe University set a new upper limit on the mass of neutron stars: it cannot be larger than 2.16 solar masses. Since their discovery in the 60's, scientists have worked on answering a crucial question: How massive do neutron stars actually get? Differently from black holes, in fact, these stars cannot be arbitrarily massive; past a certain finite limit in mass, no physical force in nature can contrast their enormous gravitational forces. For the first time, astrophysicists at Goethe University Frankfurt have succeeded in calculating a stringent upper bound on the maximum mass of neutron stars.
Understanding neutron stars better
Prof. Luciano Rezzolla, Senior Fellow of the Frankfurt Institute for Advanced Studies (FIAS) and Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics at the Goethe University, will receive 80 million CPU hours at the supercomputer superMUC of the Leibniz Computing Center in Garching near Munich next year for the simulation of neutron star duplex systems.