Glossary term: Neutron Star


A neutron star is a very dense and compact stellar remnant that is left following the collapse of a massive star's core, or perhaps the collapse of a white dwarf remnant that has been accreting mass from a nearby companion star. The collapsed core is comprised primarily of neutrons and has a density similar to that of atomic nuclei. The lower mass limit of a neutron star is 1.4 solar masses, and the upper limit is about 3 solar masses – above this the object would collapse to a black hole. Highly magnetic neutron stars are known as magnetars.

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A neutron star appears as a blue spot surrounded by shells of material which appear as red and green rings

Death of a massive star

Caption: A multi-wavelength image taken with telescopes on the Earth and in space of a neutron star within our neighbouring Small Magellanic Cloud galaxy. A neutron star (seen here as the blue spot surrounded by a red ring) is the final product of gravitational collapse, compression and explosion of a massive star, left embedded in its supernova remnant (in green).
Credit: ESO/NASA, ESA and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)/F. Vogt et al. credit link
License: CC-BY-4.0 Creative Comments Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) icons