When two neutron stars collide, it isn’t like we can pop up there with a thermometer to measure the intense temperatures being generated at the heart of the collision.
Add to that the fact that we’ve only ever seen one neutron star collision (that we know of), it isn’t like there are a bunch of opportunities on which to good techniques for taking the temperature of a neutron star fender bender.
So scientists at the the Technical University of Munich and the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research in Germany (the HADES Collaboration) bought creative. They discovered how to simulate a neutron star collision right here on Earth. And the answer was another type of collision – particles.
Heavy ions, to be exact. As it seems, some of the situations in heavy-ion collisions – namely the densities and temperatures – are similar to these in neutron star collisions. And, just as virtual photons are produced in a neutron star collision, they can additionally seem when two heavy ions are smashed together at velocities approaching light speed.
This can be carried out using the GSI’s heavy ion accelerator, but there are two main issues. The first is that the virtual photons seem very not often. The second is that they’re fragile.
The primary drawback is straightforward to resolve if considerably time-consuming. You make other collisions.
The second problem is slightly bit trickier. The crew had to design a big custom camera – 1.5 square meters – to detect the very faint Cherenkov radiation patterns generated by the decay merchandise of photons.
These are too thin to be seen with the bare eye.
This data allowed the team to probe the bulk properties of the extremely dense matter briefly produced by the heavy-ion collisions – and they found that it resembles the features expected within the case that forms during a neutron star merger.
In turn, they had been able to determine that two colliding neutron stars, every with a mass 1.35 times that of the Sun, would produce a temperature of 800 billion degrees Celsius. This means that such collisions fuse heavy nuclei. But that is not all. This analysis offers insight into the dense quark matter (QCD matter) that filled the universe just moments after the