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The Question

(Submitted June 07, 2001)

The Chandrasekhar Limit states that the maximum mass for a white dwarf star is 1.4 Solar masses. I am wondering whether we know the maximum mass for a neutron star, at which point more mass will create a black hole?

The Answer

Thanks for the question. The currently popular maximum neutron star mass is about 3-3.2 Solar masses. (However, being a scientific subject, there are some researchers who contest this limit on a few arguments.) Neutron stars are created when normal stars of 4-8 Solar masses undergo supernova explosions and throw off most of their outer material. The remaining protons and electrons collapse and are fused together to form a dense ball of neutrons. For some more information of neutron stars, see http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/science/know_l1/pulsars.html.

Cheers,
Scott & Laura
for Ask an Astrophysicist

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