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Neutron Stars: The Quest to Understand the Zombies of the Cosmos

9780674919358
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The astonishing science of neutron stars and the stories of the scientists who study them.


Neutron stars are as bewildering as they are elusive. The remnants of exploded stellar giants, they are tiny, merely twenty kilometers across, and incredibly dense. One teaspoon of a neutron star would weigh several million tons. They can spin up to a thousand times per second, they possess the strongest magnetic fields known in nature, and they may be the source of the most powerful explosions in the universe. Through vivid storytelling and on-site reporting from observatories all over the world, Neutron Stars offers an engaging account of these still-mysterious objects.


Award-winning science journalist Katia Moskvitch takes readers from the vast Atacama Desert to the arid plains of South Africa to visit the magnificent radio telescopes and brilliant scientists responsible for our knowledge of neutron stars. She recounts the exhilarating discoveries, frustrating disappointments, and heated controversies of the past several decades and explains cutting-edge research into such phenomena as colliding neutron stars and fast radio bursts: extremely powerful but ultra-short flashes in space that scientists are still struggling to understand. She also shows how neutron stars have advanced our broader understanding of the universe—shedding light on topics such as dark matter, black holes, general relativity, and the origins of heavy elements like gold and platinum—and how we might one day use these cosmic beacons to guide interstellar travel.


With clarity and passion, Moskvitch describes what we are learning at the boundaries of astronomy, where stars have life beyond death.

Cover:
Hardback
Edition Number:
1
ISBN:
9780674919358
Pages:
304
Author:
Moskvitch Katia
Publisher:
HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESS
Release Year:
2020
Katia Moskvitch is a contributor to The Economist, Science, and Quanta Magazine. She has been an editor at Wired UK and staff writer at Nature and BBC News. In 2019 she was named the European Science Journalist of the Year by the World Conference of Science Journalists.

Prologue

1. A Collision That Shook the Cosmos

Deeper Dive: The Origin of Gold

Deeper Dive: Why Was the Kilonova Blue?

2. Discovering Neutron Stars…and Little Green Men?

Deeper Dive: The Interstellar Medium, Home of Neutron Stars

3. When Stars Go Boom

Deeper Dive: Pulsar Kicks

Deeper Dive: The Death of Massive Stars

4. Zombies and Starquakes

Deeper Dive: The Multibeam

Deeper Dive: The Exotic World of X-ray Sources

Deeper Dive: Pulsar Timing

5. Journey to the Center of a Neutron Star

6. How Neutron Stars Keep Spoiling Dark Matter Theories

7. When Pulsars Have Planets

8. Giant Scientific Tools of the Universe

Deeper Dive: Kepler’s Laws and Beyond

9. Fast Radio Bursts, an Unfinished Chapter

Epilogue

Notes

Acknowledgments

Index

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Principles of Physical Cosmology
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