Most massive neutron star ever discovered using Green Bank Telescope

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In this Nov. 14, 2013 photo, Michael Holstine, business manager at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, walks out of a shed underneath the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in Green Bank, W.Va. Standing taller than the Statue of Liberty, it’s the largest fully-steerable radio telescope in the world. It’s also incredibly sensitive — so sensitive that it is able to detect energy in outer space that is equivalent to the energy emitted by a single snowflake hitting the ground. The quiet zone allows scientists to hear these faint signals that would otherwise be obscured by man-made interference. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

GREEN BANK, W.Va. (WOWK) – The Green Bank Observatory announced that astronomers discovered the most massive neutron star to date using the Green Bank Telescope. The researchers, members of the NANOGrav Physics Frontiers Center, discovered that a rapidly rotating millisecond pulsar is the most massive neutron star ever measured, packing 2.17 times the mass of our Sun into a sphere only 30 kilometers across.

Researchers say this record-breaking object is teetering on the edge of existence, approaching the theoretical maximum mass possible for a neutron star.

“Neutron stars are as mysterious as they are fascinating. These city-sized objects are essentially ginormous atomic nuclei. They are so massive that their interiors take on weird properties. Finding the maximum mass that physics and nature will allow can teach us a great deal about this otherwise inaccessible realm in astrophysics.”

Thankful Cromartie, UVA Graduate Student, Grote Reber pre-doctoral fellow at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory

The Green Bank Observatory says they employ 100 people on the Green Bank site year-round, and 150 people during the summer. The Green Bank site was dedicated on October 17, 1957, and the groundbreaking for the GBT was in 1991.

You can read more about the discovery on the Green Bank Observatory’s website.


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