UK & World News

  • 15 May 2014, 10:39

Star Wars: Space Giants Tear Each Other Apart

It's one of the most violent events in the universe.

A battle to the death between two neutron stars, which rip each other apart and collide until a black hole is formed.

It is something no human will ever see, but a Nasa supercomputer has created a dramatic simulation of how it is likely to look.

Neutron stars are the cores left behind when stars born with masses up to 30 times the mass of our sun explode as supernovas.

A lot of gravitational mass is packed into a small volume, with a typical neutron star having 1.5 times the mass of the sun in a ball just 12 miles across.

Nasa says a single cubic centimetre of neutron star outweighs Mount Everest.

The video lasts two minutes but shows an event that in the real world would take just milliseconds.

Nasa described the video simulation in vivid terms, saying: "As the stars spiral toward each other, intense tides begin to deform them, possibly cracking their crusts.

"Neutron stars possess incredible density - but their surfaces are comparatively thin - with densities about a million times greater than gold.

"By 7 milliseconds, tidal forces overwhelm and shatter the lesser star.

"Its super-dense contents erupt into the system and curl a spiral arm of incredibly hot material.

"At 13 milliseconds, the more massive star has accumulated too much mass to support it against gravity and collapses, and a new black hole is born."

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