a mess of circles and lightning strikes

A strange quark star may have formed from a happy cosmic merger

The universe may contain extremely dense and exotic hypothetical cosmic objects known as strange quarks. As astrophysicists continue to debate the existence of quark stars, a team of physicists have discovered that the remnant of a neutron star merger observed in 2019 has just the right mass to be one of those strange quark stars.

When the stars die, their cores compress to such incredible degrees that they become entirely new types of objects. For instance, when the sun finally goes downhe will leave behind him white dwarf, a planet-sized ball of highly compressed carbon and oxygen atoms. When even larger stars explode in cataclysmic explosions called supernovae, they leave behind neutron stars. These incredibly dense objects are only a few kilometers across but can weigh many times the mass of the sun. As their name suggests, they are made almost entirely of pure neutrons, which essentially makes them atomic nuclei several kilometers wide.


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