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Neutron Stars

It is estimated that there are 108 neutron stars in our galaxy. About 1000 of these have actually been observed by astronomers so far. Neutron stars typically have masses of around 1-2 solar masses and diameters of approximately 10 km. Thus, they have enormous densities that are similar to those encountered in the nucleus of the atom. In fact, in certain ways, neutron stars are similar to giant atomic nuclei the size of a city.

The first clear detection of neutron stars (but their existence had been forecasted theoretically) was in the discovery of radio pulsars in the 1960s. Although most neutron stars have been discovered as radio pulsars, the vast majority of the energy emitted by neutron stars is in very high energy photons (X-rays and Gamma-rays, with the highest energies exceeding 100 MeV) rather than radio waves. Typically only about 1/100,000 of their radiated energy is in the form of radio waves.



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