astronomyblog: Quark star A quark star is …

astronomyblog:

Quark star

A quark star is a hypothetical type of compact exotic star, where extremely high temperature and pressure has forced nuclear particles to form a continuous state of matter that consists primarily of free quarks.

It is well known that massive stars can collapse to form neutron stars, under extreme temperatures and pressures. In simple terms, neutrons usually have space separating them due to degeneracy pressure keeping them apart. Under extreme conditions such as a neutron star, the pressure separating nucleons is overwhelmed by gravity, and the separation between them breaks down, causing them to be packed extremely densely and form an immensely hot and dense state known as neutron matter, where they are only held apart by the strong interaction. Because these neutrons are made of quarks, it is hypothesized that under even more extreme conditions, the degeneracy pressure keeping the quarks apart within the neutrons might break down in much the same way, creating an ultra-dense phase of degenerate matter based on densely packed quarks. This is seen as plausible, but is very hard to prove, as scientists cannot easily create the conditions needed to investigate the properties of quark matter, so it is unknown whether this actually occurs.

If quark stars can form, then the most likely place to find quark star matter would be inside neutron stars that exceed the internal pressure needed for quark degeneracy – the point at which neutrons (which are formed from quarks bound together) break down into a form of dense quark matter. 

They could also form if a massive star collapses at the end of its life, provided that it is possible for a star to be large enough to collapse beyond a neutron star but not large enough to form a black hole. 

However, as scientists are unable so far to explore most properties of quark matter, the exact conditions and nature of quark stars, and their existence, remain hypothetical and unproven. The question whether such stars exist and their exact structure and behavior is actively studied within astrophysics and particle physics.

If they exist, quark stars would resemble and be easily mistaken for neutron stars: they would form in the death of a massive star in a Type II supernova, they would be extremely dense and small, and possess a very high gravitational field. They would also lack some features of neutron stars, unless they also contained a shell of neutron matter, because free quarks are not expected to have properties matching degenerate neutron matter. For example, they might be radio-silent, or not have typical size, electromagnetic, or temperature measurements, compared to other neutron stars. source | quarks | neutron star