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June 28 2013

New phase of matter found: 'Nuclear pasta' in neutron stars


A rare state of matter dubbed "nuclear pasta" appears to exist only inside ultra-dense objects called neutron stars, astronomers say.

There, the nuclei of atoms get crammed together so tightly that they arrange themselves in patterns akin to pasta shapes some in flat sheets like lasagna and others in spirals like fusilli. And these formations are likely responsible for limiting the maximum rotation speed of these stars, according to a new study.

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