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Neutron Stars

The crushed remnant of a star that exploded as a supernova. Stars that are born with about 8 to 20 times the mass of the Sun blast most of their material into interstellar space in titanic explosions, leaving only their crushed, dense cores. Neutron stars are named after their composition: neutrons. In a star with a core that is 1.4 to 3 times the mass of the Sun, the core collapses so completely that electrons and protons combine to form neutrons. A full bathtub of neutron-star material (instead of water) would weigh as much as two Mount Everests. A neutron star is about 10-15 miles (16-24 km) in diameter, with a liquid neutron core and a crust of solid iron. Some neutron stars, called pulsars, spin rapidly (from once a second to several hundred times per second) and generate powerful magnetic fields.

Radio Programs

Vela X-1 A giant X-ray machine in the sky September 19, 2016

Bright and Brighter Boosting the “boom” of an exploding star June 7, 2016

Stellar Whopper The brightest of the bright March 22, 2016

Crab Nebula A crab scuttles across the sky December 14, 2015

Making a Magnetar Making a powerful magnet August 5, 2015

Magnetars Powering up some strong magnets August 4, 2015

Golden Mergers Mining gold from a black hole December 22, 2013

Slowing Down A dead star slows down September 19, 2013

Vela A giant cloud of stellar debris April 3, 2013

Cracking Up A neutron star cracks up March 21, 2013

Neutron Stars Gravity wins the stellar battle March 20, 2013

Supernova 1987A, II Hunting for an elusive neutron star February 21, 2012

Geminga Giving birth to a “dead” star February 11, 2012

Gravitational Waves II Tiny ripples from heavy objects January 23, 2012

Pulsars The steady beat of dead stars January 6, 2012

Crab Nebula The “crabby” remains of an exploded star January 5, 2012

More Cassiopeia A Flowing through a neutron star October 5, 2011

Flickering Crab A dead but fascinating star April 7, 2011

Featured Images

Combined visible, X-ray image of M51, the whirlpool galaxy

Colorful Whirlpool June 4, 2014

Gold may have been created in the mergers of neutron stars

Golden Mergers December 23, 2013

Artist's concept of a neutron star's crust cracking

Cracking Up March 22, 2013

Artist's concept of the pulsar and planets in the system PSR B1257+12

Second-Chance Planets January 8, 2012

M1, the Crab Nebula, in a Hubble Space Telescope image

Crab Nebula January 6, 2012