Called a neutron star, the dense, decaying remnants of a massive star have a mass twice that of our Sun, making it the largest neutron star known to date. The object spins 707 times per second, making it one of the fastest-spinning neutron stars in the Milky Way.
The neutron star is called a black widow because it closely resembles these well-known spiders After female spiders feed on much smaller male partners after mating, the star splits and swallows the entire mass of its mate.
This stellar feast allowed Black Widow to become the heaviest neutron star observed to date.
Astronomers were able to weigh the star known as PSR J0952-0607 Using the sensitive Keck Telescope at the WM Keck Observatory in Mauna Kea, Hawaii.
The lab’s low-resolution imaging spectrometer recorded visible light from the torn companion star, which is glowing due to high temperatures.
The companion star is now the size of a giant gas planet, or 20 times the mass of Jupiter. The side of the companion star facing the neutron star is heated to 10,700 degrees Fahrenheit (5927 degrees Celsius) – hot and bright enough to see through a telescope.
Outside of black holes, neutron star nuclei are the densest matter in the universe, and 1 cubic inch (16.4 cubic cm) of neutron star weighs more than 10 billion tons, study author Roger W. According to Romani, professor of physics at Stanford University in California.
Researchers report that this particular neutron star is the densest object in Earth’s sight.
“We know how matter behaves at atomic densities, as in the nucleus of a uranium atom,” study co-author Alex Filippenko said in a statement. Filippenko is a professor of astronomy and holds dual degrees Eminent Prof Physics at the University of California, Berkeley.
“A neutron star is like a giant core, but if you have one and a half solar masses, which is about 500,000 Earth-mass cores all stuck together, it’s not clear how they’re going to work.”
A neutron star like PSR J0952-0607 is called a pulsar because, as it spins, the object acts as a cosmic beacon, constantly emitting light via radio waves, X-rays, or gamma rays.
Normal pulsars spin and flash once per second, but this star pulsates hundreds of times per second. This is because the neutron star is more active because it is scavenging material from the companion star.
“In a case of cosmic ingratitude, the Black Widow pulsar, which swallowed most of its companion, is now heating up and evaporating into planetary masses, leading to complete destruction,” Pilipenko said.
Astronomers discovered it for the first time neutron star in 2017, and Filippenko and Romani have studied similar black widow systems for more than a decade. They were trying to understand how massive neutron stars could get. When neutron stars become too massive, they collapse and become black holes.
The star PSR J0952-0607 is 2.35 times the mass of the Sun, which is now considered the upper limit of neutron stars.
“We can continue to look for black widows and similar neutron stars skating near the edge of a black hole. But if we don’t find any, that makes it hard to argue that 2.3 solar masses is the real limit after which they become black holes,” Pilipenko said.
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