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Size of atom/under pressure

  1. Mar 16, 2013 #1
    Hi forums.

    Well maybe an easy question but it got me wondering last night.
    In "universal phenomenon" like neutron stars or ordinary stars not to mention black holes which probably fall out of this category as we yet don't know the exact structure within them.
    Now let's take a neutron star for example.A star that has like 1,5 the solar mass in a about a 24km Diameter sphere.
    Now there is huge pressure inside the star and the core especially , I would even say mind boggling utterly unimaginable pressure.

    Now knowing that the atom is very "empty" well the nucleus is very small and the space around it is pretty large compared to it , also the electron is one of the smallest elementary particles and has no inner structure could this mean that the super dense and extremely high pressure plasmas inside big stars and neutron stars are possible because of the spacious atom?
    Or in other words are they possible because the atom has so much free space within it so that with enough gravitational potential as with a star it can push the the particles superclose as normally they would not do that because of their interactions like the electrostatic in case of two nucleus or two electrons?

    And by the way shouldn't there be a limit to how dense a piece of matter can get because you squeeze protons and neutrons within the nucleus and the quarks are being squeezed as a result from that and apparently there should be a point where one can squeeze no more , like for the electron which is said to be a point type particle with no inner structure.As much as I understand the electron still is a piece of matter even though very small but is and then comes the questions how close and tight you can get them.
    Actually this would apply to the Black Hole behind event horizon picture too.Too bad we don't have ny official science yet to explain what is really going on there.
    Last edited: Mar 16, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 16, 2013 #2
    You are right that it is hard to squeeze an electron towards the nucleus. When you do this you experience a sort of pressure that makes it difficult to squeeze electrons, this pressure is called the electron degeneracy pressure.

    A neutron star has such immense pressure, however, that it overcomes this electron degeneracy and the electrons fuse together with the protons of the nucleus to become neutrons (hence why the neutron star is named such, because all the electrons and protons have become neutrons).

    There there is a different degeneracy pressure keeping the star in the form of a neutron star (I forget what this is called; but neutron degeneracy pressure probably isn't a bad bet). It is quite possible that there is another intermediate state between this neutron star and the point where there is no force in the universe strong enough to hold the molecules apart from each other and the star collapses to a black hole.

    There are several theories about what this state inbetween neutron stars and black holes are, a common one is the idea of a quark star: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quark_star

    However, because the equations that are involved in these super-massive super-dense calculations are not well known, it is hard to predict what actually occurs.
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