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Author Topic: A spoonful of a neutron star - for physics nerds  (Read 2162 times)
Description: Here are some things to ponder
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aluminumstudios
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« on: September 29, 2010, 05:54:14 AM »

I am at work and really bored right now, so the science nerd in me wants to pose a few questions! nerd

We've all heard many times how a spoonful of neutron star material would weigh millions of tons (or more) on Earth and such.  But what I want to know is if we could theoretically somehow take a spoonful of a neutron star, wouldn't it explode insanely violently the second it was no longer in the gravitational field that compressed it?

Neutron stars are unimaginably hot.  At those temperatures any matter should want to expand as a gas.  So if we could borrow the transporters from the starship Enterprise, and beam a spoonful of neutron star material to Earth, wouldn't it explode rather than remaining a super-dense, super-hot clump of matter?

Also, if it exploded, what would it release?  Would it be an unbelievable blast of particle radiation (neutrons), or would it be more like the shower of various particles seen inside the colliding beams of particle accelerators due to the high energies involved and neutrons colliding with other particles?

* I know that the Enterprise's transporters have a limited range and even with boosting the annular confinement beam probably couldn't get a lock on material from a neutron start, this is in theory ;-)
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Millennium Nocturne
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« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2010, 10:01:14 AM »

If a spoonful of Neutron star material comes to earth..well..it will explode..releasing: Neutrons! (even a neutrino or two)..
Also, it can start a nuclear fission process..

Actually, a spoonful of neutron star material is exactly what I need for my super dark coffee (a cup of coffee so dark that not even light can escape from it). Neutrons tastes much like sugar, so it could be a good addition.. grin


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aluminumstudios
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« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2010, 11:07:03 AM »

Actually, a spoonful of neutron star material is exactly what I need for my super dark coffee (a cup of coffee so dark that not even light can escape from it). ...

 rolling on floor laughing
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hobold
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« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2010, 01:09:35 PM »

An ordinary atom here on earth concentrates most of its mass in a tiny nucleus. But it is surrounded by a comparably huge hull of electrons. The electron hulls of two atoms repel each other, due to electrostatic forces. So usually, atom nuclei are spaced far apart, and the ordinary solid matter here on earth actually consists mostly of empty space (filled with electric fields).

A neutron star is basically a single huge atomic nucleus. No pesky electron hulls, no large swathes of empty space. That's why this kind of matter has much much higher density. But large nuclei tend to be unstable, they break into smaller parts after a while. This nuclear fission is what happens in our nuclear power plants, and our atomic bombs (well, the older models of those ...).

A neutron star doesn't break apart like that, because it is being held together by its own gravity. But a spoonful of neutronium on earth would very suddenly remember that it is just a huge unstable atomic nucleus, with nothing at all to hold it together. It would instantly crumble into many tiny, ordinary, stable atoms in a big explosion. You wouldn't want to be close enough to watch ...
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aluminumstudios
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« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2010, 02:01:47 PM »

It would instantly crumble into many tiny, ordinary, stable atoms in a big explosion. You wouldn't want to be close enough to watch ...

In order to become "ordinary, stable atoms", would it beta decay, emitting untold numbers of electrons as neutrons decay into protons? 
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hobold
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« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2010, 04:40:00 PM »

You are right. There are not enough protons around, and beta decay takes much too long (compared to the time frame of the explosion). So the debris would not be atom nuclei, but just free flying neutrons, with an occasional helium ion.

Hmm. Does this mean the gravity of a neutron star keeps even electrons from escaping?
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Sockratease
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« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2010, 06:09:57 PM »

Actually, a spoonful of neutron star material is exactly what I need for my super dark coffee (a cup of coffee so dark that not even light can escape from it). Neutrons tastes much like sugar, so it could be a good addition.. grin

Sounds good, but...  how would the coffee get out?

Kinda defeats the purpose if you can't drink it!   afro
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« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2010, 08:33:39 PM »

A free neutron decays into a proton and an electron, which is to say an hydrogen atom, with emission of an antineutrino, possibly some deuterium and helium might also be generated and certainly some of those neutons would interact with surrounding earthly atoms splitting and/or transmuting some of them into radioactive isotopes.

In the meantime I'll have a soup of quarks waiter...

 afro
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The Rev
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« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2010, 10:30:14 PM »

I would imagine that neutronium would back a person up pretty bad, making it a very ironic coffee additive, indeed.

I've often wondered that since stars of any kind are a balancing act between fusion explosion and gravity, if you were to unbalance the gravity well surrounding a star even a little bit, if it wouldn't lead to the immediate destruction of the star.  An analogy would be a depression in a rubber sheet filled with water.  If the depression were unbalanced, by pressing down with your finger near it for example, the water would lose it's integrity and run out onto the surrounding sheet.  Of course, when we're talking about a star, the massive pressure inside would suddenly be released, and the star, presumably, would explode.  Any thoughts?

The Rev 
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ker2x
Fractal Molossus
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« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2010, 12:30:08 AM »

there is no spoon  cheesy

(my latest buddhabrot)
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often times... there are other approaches which are kinda crappy until you put them in the context of parallel machines
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Millennium Nocturne
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« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2010, 10:48:46 AM »

Actually, a spoonful of neutron star material is exactly what I need for my super dark coffee (a cup of coffee so dark that not even light can escape from it). Neutrons tastes much like sugar, so it could be a good addition.. grin

Sounds good, but...  how would the coffee get out?

Kinda defeats the purpose if you can't drink it!   afro

Oh, yes.. I can drink it  grin
the laws of physics are things that happen to other people..
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bib
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At the borders...


100008697663777 @bib993
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« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2010, 06:08:17 PM »

An exploding neutron star cheesy


http://www.fractalforums.com/index.php?action=gallery;sa=view;id=3706
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Between order and disorder reigns a delicious moment. (Paul ValÚry)
ker2x
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« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2010, 06:52:51 PM »

how was it made please ? smiley
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often times... there are other approaches which are kinda crappy until you put them in the context of parallel machines
(en) http://www.blog-gpgpu.com/ , (fr) http://www.keru.org/ ,
Sysadmin & DBA @ http://www.over-blog.com/
bib
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« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2010, 08:17:57 PM »

This is an interpolated hybrid made in Mandelbulb3D (Amazing box scale -1.1/Fuzzy power 4)


Mandelbulb3Dv16{
I.....x/...r3...w..........mOzYVkLc2.PkpVGRBdr1E2raEWeulYynvsoxpmW9nzUXzcsp88Pvj
................................eO2h/rfAgz1........Y./..................y.2.....
.................QE//....6EL1...Z.....E/.....kQXsO6tLDpD/Q..........z....w1.BnAH
z2....kD....0..........wz.......................................................
........IUA8bwmcixHhYRaYMCeNzi/GGcufC.qDkTdOZE1Rex1MJUYSCtkPzolfZ90K/fojaU1gPd8n
Ex9DNXE9nPbLzAL.g3cI.9rD......IX2...D0....................E.....................
.............................Ulx0C.er9s.sUjU1UAy0C.Kt9s.cbjU1Uby0C..............
................N.........kJ.U2.X0...E2....J....21...sE...UA....e....E2...U85HvD
...U.0vHDVAg./ERW22Fp/.../6.1c..zzzz.Q6Fbf24LNwD.....................2E.86jU98/.
YA72QifFDznOaC/LmCxwzeB8Uvzzzzzj/6U0.wzzz1./fEDCcrA/.BWAZRBEi7.k..........E/5cUv
zzzz.UVvuzzzzzzDDVu0bjnZ9zvFdetqzzzzzKU.moyzzzD.G1Uqzzzzzz1MSF1vvQtmz8dFCcxzzzzj
/6U0.wzzz1....................................c7a.......Isnz.........6RLzb5..wDU
..UzxRm7b.......Mtr7bQ0......2eTbQm7.......tyRm7b.......4xr7bQ0......YtTbQm7....
..UzzRm7b..........s....ee0..wD.IJ3.s0..wy5s....................................
E2...6........sD2....A....EEh3aSdtqNU6oPs/kI371.......................k/9.......
..........UaNaNaNaNwz0....................2.....................................
................................................................................
.........................wX3....0....MIRudLS.sqN0x4S.MoI........................
.....MU/4MU/4................./E..........2........wz...........................
................................................................................
................................}
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Between order and disorder reigns a delicious moment. (Paul ValÚry)
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