New models could help researchers estimate the size of neutron stars, according to a recent study published in the journal Physical Review Letters.
These simulations — which come from scientists at Goethe University — use data collected on gravitational waves. By analyzing such information, astronomers may be able to get a more precise idea of how big neutron stars can grow.
Neutron stars are incredibly dense. So dense that they have a mass greater than our sun stuffed into the size of a large city. However, though scientists have had a rough idea of their size, nobody has managed to get their precise dimensions.
To fix that, the team behind the new study developed a formula that estimates the size of neutron stars by analyzing the gravitational waves produced by merging neutron stars.
They came up with the method after comparing the predictions of two billion theoretical models of neutron stars and then constraining their models with parameters observed in the gravitational waves created by a neutron star merger known as GW170817.
“By exploring the results for all possible values of the parameters, we can effectively reduce our uncertainties,” said study co-author Luciano Rezzolla, a researcher at Goethe University, according to UPI.
The new findings revealed that neutron stars have a diameter that sits between 7.4 and 8.4 miles. However, that measurement is not completely definitive because there are several ways neutron stars can exist.
“However, there is a twist to all this, as neutron stars can have twin solutions,” said study co-author Jürgen Schaffner-Bielich, a researcher at Goethe University, according to Phys.org.
While there is no proof such solutions exist, the team took them into account in their findings. That then revealed twin stars are statistically rare and are unlikely to be deformed during a merger. As a result, scientists may be able to rule out their existence in future calculations.