The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #59418   Message #1523850
Posted By: Amos
18-Jul-05 - 11:03 PM
Thread Name: BS: The Mother of all BS threads
Subject: RE: BS: The Mother of all BS threads
This, too, could be important:


The biggest starquake ever recorded resulted in oscillations in the X-ray emission from the shaking neutron star. Astronomers hope these oscillations will crack the mystery of what neutron stars are made of.

On December 27, 2004, several satellites and telescopes from around the world detected an explosion on the surface of SGR 1806-20, a neutron star 50,000 light years away. The resulting flash of energy -- which lasted only a tenth of a second -- released more energy than the Sun emits in 150,000 years.

Combing through data from NASA's Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer, a team of astronomers has identified oscillations in the X-ray emission of SGR 1806-20. These rapid fluctuations, which began 3 minutes after the starquake and trailed off 10 minutes later, had a frequency of 94.5 Hertz.

"This is near the frequency of the 22nd key of a piano, F sharp," said Tomaso Belloni from Italy's National Institute of Astrophysics.

Just as geologists study the Earth's interior using seismic waves after an earthquake, astrophysicists can use the X-ray oscillations to probe this distant neutron star.

"This explosion was akin to hitting the neutron star with a gigantic hammer, causing it to ring like a bell," said Richard Rothschild from the University of California, San Diego. "Now the question is: what does the frequency of the neutron star's oscillations -- the tone produced by the ringing bell -- mean?"

Neutron stars form when a massive star runs out of nuclear fuel to burn. Under the weight of its own gravity, the star's core collapses into either a dense neutron star, or an even denser black hole.

The particles inside a neutron star are so tightly packed together that electrons are forced into the atomic nucleus, where they fuse with protons to make neutrons. This pure neutron material is so dense that a spoonful of it would weigh over a billion tons on Earth.

A neutron star with the mass of our Sun would only be 10 miles wide.

Neutron star "geology" is thought to involve a hard outer crust floating over a superfluid core. But the exact details are not known -- like whether the core contains exotic particles called strange quarks. Starquakes may provide the answer.

Now it's a musical thread. But seriously, would any of us have known that hitting the F# key on a piano would start a resonance with a remote neutron star? I always knew F# on mah 12-string was hard to play, but NOW I think I know why. It was a major karmic flinch, caused by a deep-seated unwillingness to resonate with neutron stars and contact any of those "strange" quarks.

Not to say queer, or nothin'....