May 29, 2013

A New Kind of Cosmic Glitch

Astronomers led by McGill research group discover new phenomenon in neutron star

The physics behind some of the most extraordinary stellar objects in the Universe just became even more puzzling.

A group of astronomers led by McGill researchers using NASA's Swift satellite have discovered a new kind of glitch in the cosmos, specifically in the rotation of a neutron star.

Neutron stars are among the densest objects in the observable universe; higher densities are found only in their close cousins, black holes. A typical neutron star packs as much mass as half-a-million Earths within a diameter of only about 20 kilometers. A teaspoonful of neutron star matter would weigh approximately 1 billion tons, roughly the same as 100 skyscrapers made of solid lead.