Not a Quirk But a Quark ... a Quark Star!

Jun 27, 2008
Not a Quirk But a Quark ... a Quark Star!
Illustration of a supernova explosion. Three exceptionally luminous supernovae explosions have been observed in recent years. One was first observed using a robotic telescope at Caltech's Palomar Observatory. Data collected with Palomar's Samuel Oschin Telescope was transmitted from the remote mountain site in southern California to astronomers via the NSF-funded High-Performance Wireless Research and Education Network (HPWREN). The Nearby Supernova Factory research group at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory reported the co-discovery of the supernova, known as SN2005gj. Researchers in Canada have analyzed this, along with two other supernovae, and believe that they each may be the signature of the explosive conversion of a neutron star into a quark star. Credit: NASA/CXC/M.Weiss

Astronomers recently announced that they have found a novel explanation for a rare type of super-luminous stellar explosion that may have produced a new type of object known as a quark star.

Three exceptionally luminous supernovae explosions have been observed in recent years. One of them was first observed using a robotic telescope at the California Institute of Technology's (Caltech) Palomar Observatory.

Data collected with Palomar's Samuel Oschin Telescope was transmitted from the remote mountain site in southern California to astronomers via the High-Performance Wireless Research and Education Network (HPWREN), funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Nearby Supernova Factory research group at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory reported the co-discovery of the supernova, known as SN2005gj.

Researchers in Canada have analyzed this, along with two other supernovae, and believe that they each may be the signature of the explosive conversion of a neutron star into a quark star.

These three supernovae, each 100 times brighter than a typical supernova, have been difficult to explain. The Canadian reserach team thinks the explosions herald the creation of a previously unobserved and new class of objects designated as quark stars.

A quark star is a hypothetical type of star composed of ultra dense quark matter. Quarks are the fundamental components of protons and neutrons, which make up the nucleus of atoms. The most dense objects known to exist today are neutron stars--stars composed entirely of tightly packed neutrons. A typical neutron star is some 16 miles across, yet has a mass one and a half times the mass of our Sun.

Neutron stars are formed when a massive star undergoes a supernova explosion at the end of its life. The question is, is a neutron star indeed the most dense object that exists? It is thought that if the neutrons are too tightly packed--if what scientists consider a neutron star is too dense--the resulting instability may lead to a further collapse, resulting in a second explosion and the creation of a quark star. The energy that powers that second explosiion comes from neutrons breaking down into their component parts: quarks.

Further observations should help to confirm or defeat the hypothesis of quark stars, but in either case, the use of a high-speed network like HPWREN helps astronomers across the world explore the frontiers of science.

Source: The National Science Foundation

Explore further: Fermi satellite detects gamma-rays from exploding novae

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How to uncover the true face of atomic nuclei?

Jul 10, 2014

Protons and neutrons are the basic constituents of atomic nuclei. Are they distributed homogeneously, or perhaps in quartets consisting of two protons and two neutrons? Physicists from Poland and Spain have ...

Have cosmologists lost their minds in the multiverse?

May 13, 2014

The recent BICEP2 observations – of swirls in the polarisation of the cosmic microwave background – have been proclaimed as many things, from evidence of the Big Bang and gravitational waves to something ...

Physicists confirm existence of new type of meson

May 01, 2014

(Phys.org) —Physicists in the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University have made several important discoveries regarding the basic structure of mesons—subatomic particles long thought to be ...

Recommended for you

Fermi satellite detects gamma-rays from exploding novae

1 hour ago

The Universe is home to a variety of exotic objects and beautiful phenomena, some of which can generate almost inconceivable amounts of energy. ASU Regents' Professor Sumner Starrfield is part of a team that ...

Image: Hubble serves a slice of stars

8 hours ago

The thin, glowing streak slicing across this image cuts a lonely figure, with only a few foreground stars and galaxies in the distant background for company.

Evidence of a local hot bubble carved by a supernova

Jul 30, 2014

I spent this past weekend backpacking in Rocky Mountain National Park, where although the snow-swept peaks and the dangerously close wildlife were staggering, the night sky stood in triumph. Without a fire, ...

Astronomers measure weight of galaxies, expansion of universe

Jul 30, 2014

Astronomers at the University of British Columbia have collaborated with international researchers to calculate the precise mass of the Milky Way and Andromeda galaxies, dispelling the notion that the two galaxies have similar ...

User comments : 7

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

thales
not rated yet Jun 27, 2008
I guess it could be a quark star, but it sounds strange.
GoodElf
1.3 / 5 (7) Jun 27, 2008
Sounds implausible. Free quarks do not exist. The statement "These three supernovae, each 100 times brighter than a typical supernova, have been difficult to explain"... sounds they have proposed something even harder still to explain.

Other than a "yummy new type of bomb", I can't see the motivation for this purely speculative physics. They are breaking much more than the laws of physics here, they may also be breaking the laws of morality as well. It will get funding for no other reason than it's hard to say "no" to even more powerful "explosives" than fusion devices. They are "pressing all the right buttons"... Unfortunately.

IMHO they should look for answers in other more plausible arenas.
belwood
3 / 5 (2) Jun 27, 2008
The original article isn't about Quark Stars per se - that model has been around for several years. The article is more about the model of a Quark-Nove instead.
axemaster
4.2 / 5 (5) Jun 28, 2008
"Free quarks do not exist."

True, but that's not what they're talking about. And I can see no reference to bombs here either. Keep your hat on please.

-Axemaster
Ragtime
1 / 5 (2) Jun 28, 2008
Why not to consider neutrino stars, for example? The quark star demonstrates, the transition to black hole model is rather gradual inside of our universe. By my opinion, most of black holes are formed rather by sort of very dense stars, instead of true singularities.

Here are some theories, the increased frequency of quark and strange matter stars would signalize the upcoming phase transition of vacuum into a new generation of Universe.
thales
not rated yet Jun 30, 2008
I don't think anyone got my punny little joke - another name for a quark star is a strange star. :)
Basil
not rated yet Jul 01, 2008
"free quarks do not exist"

well.. quarks would still be confined within the star.