February 7, 2015

This is not a joke

I found this today on physorg:
While the largest of a neutron star's nuclei exist in its inner core, forming an exotic ultra-dense quark-gluon plasma, the star's less dense outer edges are composed of more conventional matter. Lying at the boundary between these two types of matter in this giant pressure cooker of a star is what scientists call "nuclear pasta."

Nuclear pasta consists of very dense matter arranged in regular shapes, such as flat plates or rods, and is thought to be formed by the competition between attractive and repulsive forces of similar magnitude. The nuclear pasta shapes are made of not only neutrons, but some protons and electrons as well.

Judging by the radiation emitted by the stars, nuclear pasta appears to exist in many complex phases, to which scientists have given names such as the gnocchi phase, the lasagna phase, and the penne phase—based, of course, on the predicted shapes. As humorous as the names are, these complex nuclear pasta phases could provide some of the most detailed information scientists may ever know about the strange characteristics of neutron stars.
Nuclear pasta is now a thing. I adore physics.

(Bolding in the article quoted is mine.)

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