Astronomy – Ch. 22: Neutron Star (5 of 17) What is Quark Pressure?
Physicists for the first time calculated the pressure distribution inside a proton and found that at the most intense point it reaches 1035 Pa, 10 times higher than the indicators in the center of a neutron star.
Neutron stars are among the densest objects in the universe. The matter in them is so compressed that one teaspoon of the substance will be about 15 times heavier than the Moon. However, researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have found that the conditions inside the proton are much more severe..
It turned out that the core tends to escape outward, and the surrounding area pushes it inward. It can be compared to an inflating tennis ball inside a collapsing soccer ball. The accompanying pressure stabilizes the general structure of the proton.
Physicists used earlier measurements of the conditions of the fundamental particle’s nucleus, which took into account only quarks, and added the influence of gluons to the model. The team used the lattice quantum chromodynamics method, which is a system of equations describing the strong interaction. Calculating the interaction of quarks with gluons requires very complex calculations, so they used several supercomputers at once..
After 18 months of analyzing various configurations, scientists at MIT determined the average pressure at each point from the cent of a proton to its edge. As expected, the contribution of gluons has a significant effect on the pressure distribution, increasing the exponent at the most intense point to 1035 Pa, which is about 10 times higher than at the center of a neutron star.
Diagram of the pressure distribution in a proton.
Inside the proton, there is a bubbling quantum vacuum of pairs of quarks and antiquarks, as well as gluons that appear and disappear. Although the calculations carried out include these oscillations, much more powerful detectors, such as the Electron-Ion Collider, will be required to confirm them..
Recently, a group of physicists discovered the existence of an exotic form of electrons that spiral around their own antiparticle..
text: Ilya Bauer, photo: MIT, mappingignorance