Neutron stars sometimes collide with each other, producing most of the heavy elements, such as silver and gold. Therefore, neutron stars and their collisions are considered unique laboratories for studying the properties of matter at densities well beyond the densities within atomic nuclei.
Heavy ion collision experiments performed with particle accelerators are a complementary way of producing and probing matter at high densities and under extreme conditions.
Recent advances in multi-messenger astronomy have allowed the international research team, which includes scientists from Germany, the Netherlands, the United States, and Sweden, to gain new insights into the fundamental interactions of nuclear matter. By combining data from experiments with heavy ions, gravitational wave measurements, and other astronomical observations, scientists are restricting the properties of nuclear matter found inside neutron stars.
Sabrina Huth, of the Institute of Nuclear Physics at Darmstadt Technical University, said: “The combination of knowledge of nuclear theory, nuclear experiment and astrophysical observations is essential to illuminating the properties of rich matter. in neutrons across the density range probed by neutron stars We find that the limitations of gold ion collisions with particle accelerators show remarkable consistency with astrophysical observations although they are obtained with methods completely different “.
In this study, scientists included information obtained from heavy ion collisions in a framework that combines astronomical observations of electromagnetic signals, gravitational wave measurements, and high-performance astrophysical calculations with theoretical calculations of nuclear physics.
The authors used data from gold-ion collision experiments at the GSI Helmholtzzentrum für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt, as well as the Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the United States, in their multi-step procedure. the limitations of nuclear theory and astrophysical observations. , such as neutron star mass measurements from radio observations and information on the inner composition of neutron stars.
Additional limitations have been enabled in the area of density where nuclear theory and astrophysical observations are less sensitive by including heavy ion collision data in the analysis. This has helped to develop a more complete knowledge of dense matter. Improved restrictions on heavy ion collisions should help bridge the gap between nuclear theory and astrophysical observations in the future by providing complementary data.
Experiments investigating higher densities while reducing experimental uncertainties, in particular, offer many promises to provide new limitations to the characteristics of neutron stars. In the coming years, new knowledge from both sides can be incorporated into the framework to increase our understanding of dense matter.
- Huth, S., Pang, PTH, Tews, I. et al. Restrict the matter of neutron stars with microscopic and macroscopic collisions. Nature 606, 276–280 (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41586-022-04750-w