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Neutron star and white dwarf material

  1. Dec 14, 2011 #1

    mathman

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    Neutron stars are held together by extremely strong gravitational force. What would happen to a chunk of the star if it had been removed and left to stand alone?

    Same question for a chunk of a white dwarf?
     
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  3. Dec 14, 2011 #2

    Chronos

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    Either would be unstable once removed from the gravitational well. 'Boom' is probably the word I'm looking for.
     
  4. Dec 14, 2011 #3

    phinds

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    :rofl:
     
  5. Dec 14, 2011 #4

    Drakkith

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    The outer crust of a Neutron star is thought to be composed of mostly ions and electrons, not neutrons. I expect that the matter would no longer be degenerate and would quickly form normal atoms again. Since atoms release energy when electrons bind with nuclei, I would expect a very large chemical explosion. Same thing for a white dwarf.
     
  6. Dec 15, 2011 #5

    Chronos

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    The crust of a neutron star is probably iron, as I recall. And I believe the result would be more on the order of a nuclear explosion - just my guess. I would hate to have the job of mining material from either object. The scoop design would be problematic and the workmans comp insurance premiums - priceless.
     
  7. Dec 15, 2011 #6

    Drakkith

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    Why do you think there would be a nuclear explosion from the removal of surface material?
     
  8. Dec 15, 2011 #7

    Chronos

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    Chemical processes do not occur at these energy levels.
     
  9. Dec 15, 2011 #8

    Drakkith

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    If the nuclei are stable then what kind of nuclear processes are we talking about here?
     
  10. Dec 15, 2011 #9

    mathman

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    To rephrase my question slightly. Assume we could get material from deep in the interior of the neutron star or white dwarf. What happens?
     
  11. Dec 15, 2011 #10

    Drakkith

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    Without being educated in this area I can only guess, but I'd say probably some kind of explosion. I know in a white dwarf that many of the electrons have high kinetic energy. From wikipedia:

    I assume that the removal of pressure from the material would result in a great release of energy as the matter violently expands and high energy electrons run into other particles.

    As for neutron stars I would expect something similar in addition to neutron decay once the extreme pressure is removed.
     
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