The colour of a neutron star?

  • Thread starter Jarfi
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  • #26
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This and subsequent posts reflect my earlier comment about the exact nature of the original question not being clear.



a black body is a black body....its TEMPERATURE that matters.

Originally the question was about the nature of the main matter that is in neutron stars, that is pressurized neutrons. There was also one about how the star itself looks, but that one was answered with it being very hot and therefore glowing, I myself suspected that being from hot gas and plasma around the neutrons, but not the neutrons making the light.

The question on how pure neutrons, a pure wall of neutrons would affect light is yet unclear. I'm guessing studying that would be extremely hard, since it's not possible to replicate in a lab.
 
  • #27
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Yes.. but there is one thing you forget.

In neutron stars the particles are literally next to each other, there is no space in between for light to flow by.

The reason air and glass is transparent is because of the large with between atoms, so that the lightwave can go trough it like a seawave trough rocks.

If the light strikes a wall of neutrons, it must be interfered or collapse somewhere on one neutron, Most of you are talking about the star being white, but I don't think that's because of neutrons, I think that's simply the electrons in the outermost layer or even gas.
This is all wrong. Light doesn't flow like water between rocks. If a neutron has vanishing charge, light will not react with it. It will go right through it. The spacing of glass atoms has nothing to do with light going through. If it did, light would go through stones and steel just as easily.

We all agree the radiated color of an object mostly depends on its temperature and emissivity spectrum.

The real question is, what does a cold black hole look like?
 
  • #28
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This is all wrong. Light doesn't flow like water between rocks. If a neutron has vanishing charge, light will not react with it. It will go right through it. The spacing of glass atoms has nothing to do with light going through. If it did, light would go through stones and steel just as easily.

We all agree the radiated color of an object mostly depends on its temperature and emissivity spectrum.

The real question is, what does a cold black hole look like?
Yes but what about the charged quarks inside the neutrons? as with metals, the whole charge is always zero, but the regional charges are not, what about quarks creating regional electric charges in a single neutron?
 
  • #29
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Yes but what about the charged quarks inside the neutrons? as with metals, the whole charge is always zero, but the regional charges are not, what about quarks creating regional electric charges in a single neutron?
Not relevant to optical processes. The energy is too low to excite significant resonances. The molecular and atomic bonds have the right energy for this.
 
  • #30
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Not relevant to optical processes. The energy is too low to excite significant resonances. The molecular and atomic bonds have the right energy for this.
So the ending conclusion is that the neutron "rock" is transparent? that's pretty damn awesome, and than the plasma and maybe hydrogen gas flowing massively hot around the star, blasting white light away.... sounds cool to me.
 
  • #31
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So the ending conclusion is that the neutron "rock" is transparent? that's pretty damn awesome, and than the plasma and maybe hydrogen gas flowing massively hot around the star, blasting white light away.... sounds cool to me.
Remember that a neutron star is not composed of ONLY neutrons. The outer layers are mostly protons and electrons. I would bet that a neutron star is not transparent at any wavelength.
 
  • #32
Are we considering how the star's constituent neutronium would appear close-up or the star as a whole to a faraway observer?

If we talk about the appearance of the star as a whole to an observer in a reference frame further away, then we have to factor in the (significant) gravitational redshift the sheer density of the body creates. One also needs to factor in whether said neutron star has a companion or other source of acreteable material, because acreating material would be accelerated to relativistic speeds, thereby emitting enormous amounts of EM energy. In short, there are more factors beyond simple surface temperature or transparency/lack thereof of the material the star is made of!
 
  • #33
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Are we considering how the star's constituent neutronium would appear close-up or the star as a whole to a faraway observer?

If we talk about the appearance of the star as a whole to an observer in a reference frame further away, then we have to factor in the (significant) gravitational redshift the sheer density of the body creates. One also needs to factor in whether said neutron star has a companion or other source of acreteable material, because acreating material would be accelerated to relativistic speeds, thereby emitting enormous amounts of EM energy. In short, there are more factors beyond simple surface temperature or transparency/lack thereof of the material the star is made of!
As I said when I posted this thread, there were two questions involved.

1: the stated question above, the wavelength of light, and combination of different light sources from the neutron star and all factors taken in as a whole for an observer at considerable distance.
2. The interaction of electromagnetic waves with neutrons, picture the neutron star, but no electron clouds.. no plasma and no gas around, just 100% neutrons. The question involved is how will 100% neutrons in 100% density affect light. Will it reflect it all, absorb it all, or not affect it at all due to neutrual charge.

There were multiple factors, including the neutrual charge of a neutron, area charge caused by quarks, the almost nonexistant gaps between the neutrons. and more.
 
  • #34
As I said when I posted this thread, there were two questions involved.

1: the stated question above, the wavelength of light, and combination of different light sources from the neutron star and all factors taken in as a whole for an observer at considerable distance.
2. The interaction of electromagnetic waves with neutrons, picture the neutron star, but no electron clouds.. no plasma and no gas around, just 100% neutrons. The question involved is how will 100% neutrons in 100% density affect light. Will it reflect it all, absorb it all, or not affect it at all due to neutrual charge.

There were multiple factors, including the neutrual charge of a neutron, area charge caused by quarks, the almost nonexistant gaps between the neutrons. and more.
I was addressing that to those quibbling over the things I mentioned. Guess I should have specified that! :P

Anyway, the structure of a neutron star isn't going to be 100% neutrons. As far as we know right now, there's going to be an outer 'crust' of regular atomic nuclei in a sea of electrons, an inner 'crust' of the above mixed with superfluid neutrons, and an inner core of superfluid neutrons, superconducting protons, and free electrons. All that's gonna make any model of neutron star appearance much more difficult to create. (Reference for specific layer compostion: http://heasarc.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/objects/binaries/neutron_star_structure.html)
 
  • #35
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Wien's Law is the short answer. Star color is proportional to temperature. Based on this we would expect a neutron star to be in the blue-violet range with some adjustment due to gravitational redshift.
IMHO, all this stuff about black body radiation and surrounding matter is misreading the question. If I asked you "what color is iron" you would not say "Orange" even though orange light does emit from iron at certain high temperatures. "Fresh iron surfaces appear lustrous silvery-gray"- Wikipedia.

The original post asks "What is the colour of pure neutrons confined together?". In other words, Neutronium. As far as I understand it, "Transparent" seems to be the most favored answer here.
 
  • #36
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It would not be transparent. The surface is not purely neutron; the pressure is lower at the surface than at the interior. Instead it is made up of nuclei and electrons. In fact throughout the entire neutron star there are still electrons and nuclei, just getting less and less as you get closer to the core. A likely color is gray or black since that's what nuclei + free electrons in an actual material looks like. Most solids are after all just this.
 
  • #37
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If I asked you "what color is iron" you would not say "Orange" even though orange light does emit from iron at certain high temperatures.

Well, if you lived somewhere where it was normal for iron to be at that temperature then you would say "orange." The surface of a young neutron star is typically a million degrees, so the natural answer would be bluish white, with lots of X rays, and gamma rays from infalling matter. To me it seems forced to wonder what the surface of the star would look like at "room temperature," but if you want to know....

The astronomers tell us that there is an atmosphere of carbon, probably only a few millimeters thick. There could be an "ocean" of liquid carbon too, though possibly very shallow. So if that was cooled down to ambient Earth temperature it would be ... well, it would depend. If there was the huge pressure of the star you would get diamond. If this were done on Earth you would have black graphite.

So a very old neutron star -- they last forever, as far as anyone knows -- might cool down enough to have a thin surface of diamond. Cool, huh? Or the nuclei might fuse. I dunno.
 
  • #38
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If you lived somewhere where it was normal for iron to be at that temperature then you would say "Aaaaa!" and then die.

All materials have the same black body radiation at a given temperature so it makes no sense to describe black body radiation as being a property of the material.
 
  • #39
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Lets get rid of the complicated but unrelated stuff like high temperature, iron crust etc.

Assume that strange matter hypotesis is true, so small macroscopic chunk of strange matter is stable. What color reflects that chunk (if it is very cold - 20C)?
 
  • #40
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IMHO, all this stuff about black body radiation and surrounding matter is misreading the question. If I asked you "what color is iron" you would not say "Orange" even though orange light does emit from iron at certain high temperatures. "Fresh iron surfaces appear lustrous silvery-gray"- Wikipedia.

The original post asks "What is the colour of pure neutrons confined together?". In other words, Neutronium. As far as I understand it, "Transparent" seems to be the most favored answer here.
Yeah, seems like 70% of the responses here didn't read my question... or they keep saying, durr well yea there are electrons too, yeah I aknowledged that, that was the 1st question, the second was how pure neutronium theoretically behaves alone, in great pressure, and how it interacts with light and such.
 
  • #41
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There is no such thing as pure neutronium. If you could somehow get some, it would quickly produce protons and electrons through neutron decay. So this becomes a bit like "what color would gold be if it weren't gold".

Additionally, there seems to be a misconception that light cannot interact with a neutron. That's not true - it can interact magnetically.
 
  • #42
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There is no such thing as pure neutronium. If you could somehow get some, it would quickly produce protons and electrons through neutron decay. So this becomes a bit like "what color would gold be if it weren't gold".

Additionally, there seems to be a misconception that light cannot interact with a neutron. That's not true - it can interact magnetically.
hmm, there was stated above in this thread, that neutronium exists pressurized in the core of the neutron star, and is mostly neutrons, also if you'd shine a light on it just before it's half life ensue
 
  • #43
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There is no such thing as pure neutronium. If you could somehow get some, it would quickly produce protons and electrons through neutron decay. So this becomes a bit like "what color would gold be if it weren't gold".
I disagree. For an object to have a definable color, it need only exist long enough to reflect a lone wavelength of red light. (The longest visible to humans, and thus defining "color") Free neutrons have a half life of about 10 minutes. Roentgenium has a similar half life and a predicted color. (Silver)

Edit: Also, is it safe to assume that the half life of neutronium is the same as that of a free neutron?
 
  • #44
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I disagree. For an object to have a definable color, it need only exist long enough to reflect a lone wavelength of red light. (The longest visible to humans, and thus defining "color") Free neutrons have a half life of about 10 minutes. Roentgenium has a similar half life and a predicted color. (Silver)

Edit: Also, is it safe to assume that the half life of neutronium is the same as that of a free neutron?
Neutrons in an atomic nucleus have a much longer half life than that. The core of a neutron star is like a huge atomic nucleus, so the half life should be much more than a free neutron.
 

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