Neutron stars usually turn very fast, taking from 0.001 second up to 30 seconds to turn.
They come in different types. One kind is the pulsar which spins and sends a beam of radio waves (like a lighthouse in space). When this beam moves past Earth, it shows up as a pulse (like the light from a lighthouse is seen as a flash on the horizon). This 'pulse' is why they are called pulsars.
Formation[change | change source]
Starting as a supernova[change | change source]
All other stars that go supernova become neutron stars.
Starting as a white dwarf[change | change source]
A white dwarf whose mass is nearly 1.4 times the mass of the Sun will sometimes get bigger (but no one knows why). When this happens, it will collapse into a neutron star.
Properties[change | change source]
Neutron stars have the same properties:
Rotation[change | change source]
Neutron stars rotate much faster than other stars, because they retain their momentum from when they were bigger stars, sort of like how an ice skater pulls their body in when spinning to increase the speed of their rotation.
Density[change | change source]
Neutron stars are very dense. They are much denser than anything we find naturally on the Earth.
To imagine how dense a neutron star is, take all of the mass of our sun (which has a diameter of 1,392,000 kilometres (865,000 mi)) and push it down into a size that would fit into a ball with a 19 kilometres (12 mi) diameter.
Another way to understand the density is this: one teaspoon of matter from the neutron star would weigh 6 billion tons.
Magnetic Field[change | change source]
Neutron stars have very strong magnetic fields. They are some of the strongest magnetic fields that occur naturally.
All stars have a magnetic field. When a star collapses, it becomes smaller. This means that the magnetism is pushed into a smaller area, which means that the magnetic field is stronger nearer the star.