Friday, November 10, 2017

[vaoysdrs] What are neutron stars made of?

Even if the particle physics desert is true, we still might be able to observe phenomena at the grand unified theory energy scale, astronomically of course.

Understanding the inner layers of neutron stars might require a GUT.  Normally these inner layers are inaccessible to observation, but neutron stars spill their guts (pun intended) during mergers with other neutron stars and black holes.  These mergers can be observed as gravitational waves and as short duration gamma ray bursts, kilonovae.

Neutron stars also undergo starquakes, which may also reveal details about their core much like seismology reveals details about the Earth's core.

What are electrons made of?  What are quarks made of?  What are neutron stars made of?  Answers to all these questions requires (at least) a GUT.

Cosmic rays are usually below 10^20 eV, but the GUT scale is 10^25, so just a little short, though one could continue to hope to observe a freakishly high energy one.  If we discover the sources of ultra high energy cosmic rays, we could observe them at their source.  One hypothesis of their source is collapsars.  A GUT might be necessary to explain all that is going on during stellar collapse.

The GUT scale is so energetic, a trillion times more than the LHC, that we will never build a particle accelerator on Earth to probe it.  But that doesn't preclude nature from building such an atom smasher in space.

Finally of course, explaining observations of the Big Bang, including the cosmic microwave background, requires a GUT.

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