Gravitational Collapse

Collapse of a Stellar Core to a Neutron Star

These images are based on a three-dimensional, fully relativistic computer simulation computing the formation of a neutron star by the gravitational collapse of a stellar core. This event marks the end of a massive star that has exhausted all its fuel for nuclear fusion. The core, consisting of iron - the final product of the stellar fusion processes -, is collapsing under its own gravity as there is no pressure from nuclear fusion stabilizing the star. Such a core collapse is one of the possibilities to release a supernova explosion. In spite of many decades of research about supernovae they are not yet fully understood.

The images show the collapsing iron core of a massive star, illustrated by its mass density. During the collapse, the density increases (green and red) until the quantum mechanical degeneracy pressure of the neutrons stops the collapse - a fast rotating proto neutron star has formed which emits spiral gravitational waves caused by asymmetric distortions.

Note: These images are copyright by AEI, ZIB and ITP. Publication requires proper credits and written permission. Please contact aei_zib_images@aei.mpg.de in advance of publication or for higher-resolution versions.

Images:

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Movie (LIGO Movie 2005):

 
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