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WVU astronomers help detect the most massive neutron star ever measured

West Virginia University researchers have helped discover the most massive neutron star to date, a breakthrough uncovered through the Green Bank Telescope in Pocahontas County. 

The neutron star, called J0740+6620, is a rapidly spinning pulsar that packs 2.17 times the mass of the sun (which is 333,000 times the mass of the Earth) into a sphere only 20-30 kilometers, or about 15 miles, across. This measurement approaches the limits of how massive and compact a single object can become without crushing itself down into a black hole. 

The star was detected approximately 4,600 light-years from Earth. One light-year is about six trillion miles. 

These findings, from the National Science Foundation-funded NANOGrav Physics Frontiers Center, were published today (Sept. 16) in Nature Astronomy. 

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Relativistic Shapiro delay measurements of an extremely massive millisecond pulsarNature Astronomy (2019)