Neutron Star vs Black Hole (a Comparison and Other FAQs)

This article explains the differences between a neutron star and a black hole.

Neutron Star vs Black Hole (Summary)

When a giant star dies in a supernova, it has three forms it can end in: entirely dead, transform in to a neutron star or manifest as a black hole. The outcome will impinge on several factors that mainly rely on the dying star’s total mass.

After a star experiences the supernova phase, the surface blows off and reveals the star’s core.

Depending on its chemical makeup, these fuse together to form heavier atoms which release energy.

But they also require energy to complete the process.

If there isn’t enough, the dying star becomes a black hole.

Neutron Stars

Of all heavily condensed objects in the universe, the neutron star is the densest.

On average, they’re only 12 miles around but compound with energy even more so than the Sun, which is 72,000 times larger.

Neutron stars have immense gravity at their cores.

So much so that it forces the positive protons and negative electrons combine in such a way as to create neutrons without any charge at all.

This means there’s no new heat that comes from them after formation.

However, they are hot when newly formed and cool down at an incredibly slow rate.

On average, have a temperature of around 1,800,000°F.

This is even more intense than the Sun, which outputs 9,900°F.

Everything that a neutron star composes has an important role.

Not only are they one of the universe’s main sources for heavy elements like uranium and gold, but they also help create new atomic nuclei.

Black Holes

Black holes exist in space that has herculean gravitational pull.

It’s so strong that nothing can escape it, not even light.

These are not merely empty space, but rather densely packed matter condensed into something that could be the size of a pen tip.

Bigger than the Sun

These occur when stars that are eight times the size of the Sun near the end of its lifecycle.

When this happen, the heavy elements at their cores begin to fuse together and compound into one another.

When elements like magnesium and silicone begin fusing, they produce iron.

Due to the density and weight of iron, it requires more energy than the reaction produces.

Because there’s nothing to counteract the developing gravitational pull, it collapses in on itself upon the weight of its own mass.

This literally results in continual crushing weight to form the black hole.

Infinite Density

This squeezing and crushing continues pressing down until it becomes a singularity of density that goes on into infinity.

Eventually, supermassive black holes form after hundreds of millions of years.

The surface of a black hole, called the “event horizon” is the area that gobbles up every object and material in proximity, including other black holes.

And this is how we know black holes exist.

Similarities and Differences between Neutron Stars and Black Holes

Black holes and neutron stars occur after the supernova phase of a dying star.

But the size, mass and chemical makeup determine which way the star will go once the process has ended.

Therefore, a star could simply no longer exist as well.

While both black holes and neutron stars experience dense compaction, black holes collapse in on themselves due to the presence of heavy metals that require more energy than the star can provide.

This creates a vacuum effect in the universe, swallowing up everything around it.

Neutron Stars Are Visible, Black Holes Aren’t

While some neutron stars do have the capacity to attract materials from its vicinity, it doesn’t have a powerful gravitational vortex in the same way as a black hole.

Even after a neutron star cools, it remains a piece of galvanized, hard matter floating in space.

Black holes are pitch black and invisible to the naked eye.

Plus, they can eat up any neutron stars in their path.

Scientists believe black holes are more prevalent than neutron stars.

But theories postulate this is because of how black holes can consume neutron stars.

The Star’s Core

While there are several factors determining what happens to a supernova, this will mostly rely on the mass at the star’s core.

Generally speaking, if it’s fewer than three solar masses, it will become a neutron star.

But, if it’s more than that, it will collapse into a black hole.

Understand, though, these are theories.

No one has yet determined what the highest possible mass could be for a dying star to turn into a neutron star.

Estimates place this around a solar mass of 2.1.

FAQ

How do neutron stars form?

Neutron stars form as a result of a dying star after it goes through its supernova phase.

The elements and chemicals fuse together with great amounts of force to create a compact and dense material that can be 2½ times heavier than the Sun.

How did scientists discover neutron stars?

The discovery of neutron stars occurred in 1967.

A research student, Jocelyn Bell, was studying distant radio waves with a detector designed to find variations in radio signals.

While investigating the Vulpecula constellation, she found distinct sound signatures, which scientists eventually confirmed were the creation of neutron stars.

Bell literally came upon the spinning action of a neutron star in progress.

How do neutron stars die?

Neutron stars don’t die. They are already dead in space once they form.

Why are neutron stars so dense?

The density of a neutron star comes from the fusion of its elements that densely compress and compact after the supernova phase blows away the surface.

Summary

Both neutron stars and black holes are some most enigmatic objects in the universe.

These are the products of dying giant stars after being a supernova.

Neutron stars are visible; they have definable features seen with a telescope.

Black holes, on the other hand, compress at such a degree that you can’t see them.

This way we know they’re present is by how the event horizon absorbs all matter in proximity.

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Neutron Star vs Black Hole

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