Posted in | News | Quantum Physics

New Results Bring Scientists Closer to Distinguishing Between Neutron and Quark Matter Cores in Neutron Stars

Do neutron stars contain exotic matter in the form of dense deconfined quark matter? Scientists performed the first accurate determination of the thermodynamic properties of dense quark matter under violent conditions that occur during neutron star mergers, and suggest a step towards distinguishing between neutron and quark matter cores in neutron stars.

The recent detection of gravitational waves emitted by two merging black holes by the LIGO and Virgo collaborations has opened up a new observational window into the cosmos.

Future observations of similar mergers between two neutron stars or a neutron star and a black hole may revolutionize what we know today about the properties of neutron stars, the densest stellar objects in the universe. By providing detailed dynamical information about the material properties of these stars, such measurements will shed light on their internal composition.

- Ultimately, they may answer the question, whether neutron stars are composed solely of ordinary atomic nuclei, or if they contain more exotic matter in the form of dense deconfined quark matter, says physicist Aleksi Vuorinen at the University of Helsinki.

To­wards ac­cur­ate the­or­et­ical un­der­stand­ing, as well

In order to be able to properly take advantage of the future observational data, it is essential that our theoretical understanding of the possible constituents of neutron star matter - dense nuclear and quark matter - be as accurate as possible.

This is, however, an extremely challenging problem, as few first principle tools exist for studying such a strongly interacting medium due to the complexity of the underlying microscopic theory, Quantum Chromodynamics (QCD). The most important tools available for such studies are so-called chiral effective theories for the nuclear interactions, applicable for nuclear matter, and thermal perturbation theory, applicable for deconfined quark matter.

In their recent paper, Cool quark matter, published in Physical Review Letters on 22.7.2016, Aleksi Kurkela (CERN and University of Stavanger) and Aleksi Vuorinen were able to perform the first accurate determination of the thermodynamic properties of dense quark matter under the violent conditions that take place in neutron star mergers.

They applied thermal perturbation theory to a high order, generalizing previous work applicable only at zero temperature. This is a very important development, as neutron star mergers may witness enormously high temperatures, reaching perhaps even 100 MeV, or K.

The new results enable realistic simulations with neutron stars containing quark cores, and thus represent an important step towards eventually distinguishing between neutron and quark matter cores in neutron stars.

The article,, was introduced as Editor's suggestion of Physical Review Letters.


Tell Us What You Think

Do you have a review, update or anything you would like to add to this news story?

Leave your feedback
Your comment type
Azthena logo powered by Azthena AI

Your AI Assistant finding answers from trusted AZoM content

Azthena logo with the word Azthena

Your AI Powered Scientific Assistant

Hi, I'm Azthena, you can trust me to find commercial scientific answers from

A few things you need to know before we start. Please read and accept to continue.

  • Use of “Azthena” is subject to the terms and conditions of use as set out by OpenAI.
  • Content provided on any AZoNetwork sites are subject to the site Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy.
  • Large Language Models can make mistakes. Consider checking important information.

Great. Ask your question.

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.