Preon star

A preon star[1] is a theoretical type of compact star made of preons, which are "point-like" particles conceived to be subcomponents of quarks and leptons.[2] Their existence was first theorized in 2005 by Fredrik Sandin and Johan Hansson, both from the Luleå University of Technology, Sweden.[3] The theory behind them was that the sub-subatomic particles would have come before subatomic particles, which came before particles, and that the original stars were made of these sub-subatomic particles, with most gradually becoming made of sub-particles, and then particles. However, the theory postulates that it is possible for some stars made of the sub-subatomic particles to remain.[4] It is believed that they may also form out of massive stars that collapse too unstably to become neutron stars, but not enough to become black holes.[5]


The equation for the mass of a preon star is predicted to be: .[5] Where:

M is the mass of the star.
is the top quark compositeness energy scale.
TeV is the number of tera-electron volts.

The equation for the radius of a preon star is estimated to be: .[5] Where:

R is the radius of the star.
is the top quark compositeness energy scale.
TeV is the number of tera-electron volts.

The maximum mass of a preon star is predicted to be: .[5] Where:

is the mass of the earth.

The maximum radius of a preon star is predicted to be: .[5] The average density of a preon star is predicted to be: ; however, the density of the center is predicted to be greater.[5]

If they exist, the eigenmode frequency for radial oscillations of a preon star will be 106 greater than that of a neutron star. As the radius will be roughly 105 smaller than the radius of a neutron star, if sound travels through preons at the same speed it does neutrons, then the frequency will be increased by 105, giving GHz frequencies. If sound travels faster in preons than it does neutrons, the frequency cannot exceed even if the speed of light is approached.[5]

The existence of preons could explain ultra-high-energy cosmic rays, as no known type of star or object can project cosmic rays with as much energy as they have, going up to 1021 eV. The possibility of a massive star collapsing and, being too unstable to collapse only to a pulsar star, collapsing all the way to a pulsar preon star with a radius of a meter and a mass of 100 earths, would allow pulsar yields of up to , which would be more than enough for an ultra-high-energy cosmic ray. It is believed that any preon star under the maximum mass will be stable.[5]

If preons exist, they, and by extension preon stars, will not perform nucleosynthesis. Nor will such stars emit Hawking radiation. It is believed that a preon star will have a large magnetic field, and rapid rotation.[5]

Theory and evidence

One of the reasons that the theory of preon stars has so few backers, is that the existence of preons would contradict not only the theory of the Higgs boson, but also the Standard Model of Physics.[6] As the Higgs boson was tentatively confirmed by CERN, the prevailing theory at present is that preons' existence is impossible.[7] The two methods that are used to try to find preons – gravitational femtolensing and searching for gravitational waves – have so far yielded nothing.[3]

Preons, if they exist, will be impossible to create even with the Large Hadron Collider, as it would require conditions similar to those of the Big Bang.[8]


  1. ^ Hansson, J; Sandin, F (2005). "Preon stars: a new class of cosmic compact objects". Physics Letters B. 616 (1–2): 1–7. arXiv:astro-ph/0410417. doi:10.1016/j.physletb.2005.04.034.
  2. ^ D'Souza, I.A.; Kalman, C.S. (1992). Preons: Models of Leptons, Quarks and Gauge Bosons as Composite Objects. World Scientific. ISBN 978-981-02-1019-9.
  3. ^ a b Dorminey, Bruce (20 November 2007). "Focus: Nuggets of New Physics". Physics. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  4. ^ Ball, Philip (30 November 2007). "Splitting the quark". Nature News. doi:10.1038/news.2007.292. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Sandin, Fredrik (2007). "1". Exotic Phases of Matter in Compact Stars (PDF) (Thesis). Luleå University of Technology. OCLC 185216905. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  6. ^ Wilkins, Alasdair. "Stars so weird that they make black holes look boring". io9. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  7. ^ O'Luanaigh, C. (14 March 2013). "New results indicate that new particle is a Higgs boson". CERN. Retrieved 19 January 2017.
  8. ^ "The Odd Case of Preon Stars". Great Discoveries Channel. The Daily Galaxy. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
Astronomical object

An astronomical object or celestial object is a naturally occurring physical entity, association, or structure that exists in the observable universe. In astronomy, the terms object and body are often used interchangeably. However, an astronomical body or celestial body is a single, tightly bound, contiguous entity, while an astronomical or celestial object is a complex, less cohesively bound structure, which may consist of multiple bodies or even other objects with substructures.

Examples of astronomical objects include planetary systems, star clusters, nebulae, and galaxies, while asteroids, moons, planets, and stars are astronomical bodies. A comet may be identified as both body and object: It is a body when referring to the frozen nucleus of ice and dust, and an object when describing the entire comet with its diffuse coma and tail.

Black hole

A black hole is a region of spacetime exhibiting gravitational acceleration so strong that nothing—no particles or even electromagnetic radiation such as light—can escape from it. The theory of general relativity predicts that a sufficiently compact mass can deform spacetime to form a black hole. The boundary of the region from which no escape is possible is called the event horizon. Although the event horizon has an enormous effect on the fate and circumstances of an object crossing it, no locally detectable features appear to be observed. In many ways, a black hole acts like an ideal black body, as it reflects no light. Moreover, quantum field theory in curved spacetime predicts that event horizons emit Hawking radiation, with the same spectrum as a black body of a temperature inversely proportional to its mass. This temperature is on the order of billionths of a kelvin for black holes of stellar mass, making it essentially impossible to observe.

Objects whose gravitational fields are too strong for light to escape were first considered in the 18th century by John Michell and Pierre-Simon Laplace. The first modern solution of general relativity that would characterize a black hole was found by Karl Schwarzschild in 1916, although its interpretation as a region of space from which nothing can escape was first published by David Finkelstein in 1958. Black holes were long considered a mathematical curiosity; it was during the 1960s that theoretical work showed they were a generic prediction of general relativity. The discovery of neutron stars by Jocelyn Bell Burnell in 1967 sparked interest in gravitationally collapsed compact objects as a possible astrophysical reality.

Black holes of stellar mass are expected to form when very massive stars collapse at the end of their life cycle. After a black hole has formed, it can continue to grow by absorbing mass from its surroundings. By absorbing other stars and merging with other black holes, supermassive black holes of millions of solar masses (M☉) may form. There is general consensus that supermassive black holes exist in the centers of most galaxies.

The presence of a black hole can be inferred through its interaction with other matter and with electromagnetic radiation such as visible light. Matter that falls onto a black hole can form an external accretion disk heated by friction, forming some of the brightest objects in the universe. If there are other stars orbiting a black hole, their orbits can be used to determine the black hole's mass and location. Such observations can be used to exclude possible alternatives such as neutron stars. In this way, astronomers have identified numerous stellar black hole candidates in binary systems, and established that the radio source known as Sagittarius A*, at the core of the Milky Way galaxy, contains a supermassive black hole of about 4.3 million solar masses.

On 11 February 2016, the LIGO collaboration announced the first direct detection of gravitational waves, which also represented the first observation of a black hole merger. As of December 2018, eleven gravitational wave events have been observed that originated from ten merging black holes (along with one binary neutron star merger). On 10 April 2019, the first ever direct image of a black hole and its vicinity was published, following observations made by the Event Horizon Telescope in 2017 of the supermassive black hole in Messier 87's galactic centre.

Compact star

In astronomy, the term compact star (or compact object) refers collectively to white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes. It would grow to include exotic stars if such hypothetical, dense bodies are confirmed to exist. All compact objects have a high mass relative to their radius, giving them a very high density, compared to ordinary atomic matter.

Compact stars are often the endpoints of stellar evolution, and are in this respect also called stellar remnants. The state and type of a stellar remnant depends primarily on the mass of the star that it formed from. The ambiguous term compact star is often used when the exact nature of the star is not known, but evidence suggests that it has a very small radius compared to ordinary stars. A compact star that is not a black hole may be called a degenerate star.

Exotic star

An exotic star is a hypothetical compact star composed of something other than electrons, protons, neutrons, or muons, and balanced against gravitational collapse by degeneracy pressure or other quantum properties. Exotic stars include quark stars (composed of quarks) and perhaps strange stars (composed of strange quark matter, a condensate of up, down and strange quarks), as well as speculative preon stars (composed of preons, which are hypothetical particles and "building blocks" of quarks, should quarks be decomposable into component sub-particles). Of the various types of exotic star proposed, the most well evidenced and understood is the quark star.

Exotic stars are largely theoretical – partly because it is difficult to test in detail how such forms of matter may behave, and partly because prior to the fledgling technology of gravitational-wave astronomy, there was no satisfactory means of detecting cosmic objects that do not radiate electromagnetically or through known particles. So it is not yet possible to verify novel cosmic objects of this nature by distinguishing them from known objects. Candidates for such objects are occasionally identified based on indirect evidence gained from observable properties.

Hypothetical star

A hypothetical star is a star, or type of star, that is speculated to exist but has yet to be definitively observed. Hypothetical types of stars have been conjectured to exist, have existed or will exist in the future universe.

Index of physics articles (P)

The index of physics articles is split into multiple pages due to its size.

To navigate by individual letter use the table of contents below.

Lists of black holes

This is a list of lists of black holes.

List of black holes.

List of most massive black holes

List of nearest black holes

Neutron star

A neutron star is the collapsed core of a giant star which before collapse had a total mass of between 10 and 29 solar masses. Neutron stars are the smallest and densest stars, not counting black holes, hypothetical white holes, quark stars and strange stars. Neutron stars have a radius on the order of 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) and a mass lower than 2.16 solar masses. They result from the supernova explosion of a massive star, combined with gravitational collapse, that compresses the core past white dwarf star density to that of atomic nuclei.

Once formed, they no longer actively generate heat, and cool over time; however, they may still evolve further through collision or accretion. Most of the basic models for these objects imply that neutron stars are composed almost entirely of neutrons (subatomic particles with no net electrical charge and with slightly larger mass than protons); the electrons and protons present in normal matter combine to produce neutrons at the conditions in a neutron star. Neutron stars are partially supported against further collapse by neutron degeneracy pressure, a phenomenon described by the Pauli exclusion principle, just as white dwarfs are supported against collapse by electron degeneracy pressure. However neutron degeneracy pressure is not sufficient to hold up an object beyond 0.7M☉ and repulsive nuclear forces play a larger role in supporting more massive neutron stars. If the remnant star has a mass exceeding the Tolman–Oppenheimer–Volkoff limit, it continues collapsing to form a black hole.

Neutron stars that can be observed are very hot and typically have a surface temperature of around 600000 K. They are so dense that a normal-sized matchbox containing neutron-star material would have a weight of approximately 3 billion metric tons, the same weight as a 0.5 cubic kilometre chunk of the Earth (a cube with edges of about 800 metres). Their magnetic fields are between 108 and 1015 (100 million to 1 quadrillion) times stronger than Earth's magnetic field. The gravitational field at the neutron star's surface is about 2×1011 (200 billion) times that of Earth's gravitational field.

As the star's core collapses, its rotation rate increases as a result of conservation of angular momentum, hence newly formed neutron stars rotate at up to several hundred times per second. Some neutron stars emit beams of electromagnetic radiation that make them detectable as pulsars. Indeed, the discovery of pulsars by Jocelyn Bell Burnell in 1967 was the first observational suggestion that neutron stars exist. The radiation from pulsars is thought to be primarily emitted from regions near their magnetic poles. If the magnetic poles do not coincide with the rotational axis of the neutron star, the emission beam will sweep the sky, and when seen from a distance, if the observer is somewhere in the path of the beam, it will appear as pulses of radiation coming from a fixed point in space (the so-called "lighthouse effect"). The fastest-spinning neutron star known is PSR J1748-2446ad, rotating at a rate of 716 times a second or 43,000 revolutions per minute, giving a linear speed at the surface on the order of 0.24 c (i.e. nearly a quarter the speed of light).

There are thought to be around 100 million neutron stars in the Milky Way, a figure obtained by estimating the number of stars that have undergone supernova explosions. However, most are old and cold, and neutron stars can only be easily detected in certain instances, such as if they are a pulsar or part of a binary system. Slow-rotating and non-accreting neutron stars are almost undetectable; however, since the Hubble Space Telescope detection of RX J185635−3754, a few nearby neutron stars that appear to emit only thermal radiation have been detected. Soft gamma repeaters are conjectured to be a type of neutron star with very strong magnetic fields, known as magnetars, or alternatively, neutron stars with fossil disks around them.Neutron stars in binary systems can undergo accretion which typically makes the system bright in X-rays while the material falling onto the neutron star can form hotspots that rotate in and out of view in identified X-ray pulsar systems. Additionally, such accretion can "recycle" old pulsars and potentially cause them to gain mass and spin-up to very fast rotation rates, forming the so-called millisecond pulsars. These binary systems will continue to evolve, and eventually the companions can become compact objects such as white dwarfs or neutron stars themselves, though other possibilities include a complete destruction of the companion through ablation or merger. The merger of binary neutron stars may be the source of short-duration gamma-ray bursts and are likely strong sources of gravitational waves. In 2017, a direct detection (GW170817) of the gravitational waves from such an event was made, and gravitational waves have also been indirectly detected in a system where two neutron stars orbit each other.

In October 2018, astronomers reported that GRB 150101B, a gamma-ray burst event detected in 2015, may be directly related to the historic GW170817 and associated with the merger of two neutron stars. The similarities between the two events, in terms of gamma ray, optical and x-ray emissions, as well as to the nature of the associated host galaxies, are "striking", suggesting the two separate events may both be the result of the merger of neutron stars, and both may be a kilonova, which may be more common in the universe than previously understood, according to the researchers.


In particle physics, preons are point particles, conceived of as subcomponents of quarks and leptons. The word was coined by Jogesh Pati and Abdus Salam in 1974. Interest in preon models peaked in the 1980s but has slowed as the Standard Model of particle physics continues to describe the physics mostly successfully, and no direct experimental evidence for lepton and quark compositeness has been found.

In the hadronic sector, some effects are considered anomalies within the Standard Model. For example, the proton spin puzzle, the EMC effect, the distributions of electric charges inside the nucleons as found by Hofstadter in 1956, and the ad hoc CKM matrix elements.

When the term "preon" was coined, it was primarily to explain the two families of spin-½ fermions: leptons and quarks. More recent preon models also account for spin-1 bosons, and are still called "preons". Each of the preon models postulates a set of fewer fundamental particles than those of the Standard Model, together with the rules governing how those fundamental particles combine and interact. Based on these rules, the preon models try to explain the Standard Model, often predicting small discrepancies with this model and generating new particles and certain phenomena, which do not belong to the Standard Model.

Q star

A Q-Star, also known as a grey hole, is a hypothetical type of a compact, heavy neutron star with an exotic state of matter. The Q stands for a conserved particle number. A Q-Star may be mistaken for a stellar black hole.

SMSS J215728.21-360215.1

SMSS J215728.21-360215.1, commonly known as J2157-3602, is one of the fastest growing black holes and one of the most powerful quasars known to exist as of 2018. The quasar is located at redshift 4.75, corresponding to a comoving distance of 25×109 ly from Earth and to a light-travel distance of 12.5×109 ly. It was discovered with the SkyMapper telescope at Australian National University's Siding Spring Observatory, announced in May 2018. It has an intrinsic bolometric luminosity of 6.95×1014 L☉ (2.66×1041 W).

Star systems
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