(Submitted October 15, 1998)
How do you know the approximate weight of a neutron star?
Using physics, we can calculate how large a star's iron core can be before
it collapses to a neutron star, and how large a neutron star can be before
it collapses to a black hole. We expect the masses of neutron stars to be
within that range.
To find the weight of a specific neutron star, and see whether we got the
physics right, we look at neutron stars in orbit around other stars and see
how fast they move and in how large an orbit. Using that information and
the laws of gravitation we can calculate the neutron star's mass.
David M. Palmer
for Ask an Astrophysicist