A quark-nova is the hypothetical violent explosion resulting from the conversion of a neutron star to a quark star. Analogous to a supernova heralding the birth of a neutron star, a quark nova signals the creation of a quark star. The term quark-novae was coined in 2002 by Dr. Rachid Ouyed (currently at the University of Calgary, Canada)[1] and Drs. J. Dey and M. Dey (Calcutta University, India).[2]

The nova process

When a neutron star spins down, it may convert to a quark star through a process known as quark deconfinement. The resultant star would have quark matter in its interior. The process would release immense amounts of energy, perhaps explaining the most energetic explosions in the universe; calculations have estimated that as much as 1047 J could be released from the phase transition inside a neutron star.[3] Quark-novae may be one cause of gamma ray bursts. According to Jaikumar et al.,[4] they may also be involved in producing heavy elements such as platinum through r-process nucleosynthesis.


Rapidly spinning neutron stars with masses between 1.5 and 1.8 solar masses are theoretically the best candidates for conversion due to spin down of the star within a Hubble time. This amounts to a small fraction of the projected neutron star population. A conservative estimate based on this, indicates that up to two quark-novae may occur in the observable universe each day.

Theoretically, quark stars would be radio-quiet, so radio-quiet neutron stars may be quark stars.


Direct evidence for quark-novae is scant; however, recent observations of supernovae SN 2006gy, SN 2005gj and SN 2005ap may point to their existence.[5][6]

See also


  1. ^ "Quark Nova Project". Retrieved 13 Sep 2018.
  2. ^ R. Ouyed; J. Dey; M. Dey (2002). "Quark-Nova". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 390: L39–L42. arXiv:astro-ph/0105109. Bibcode:2002A&A...390L..39O. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20020982.
  3. ^ "Theories of Quark-novae". Archived from the original on October 7, 2012. Retrieved 11 Feb 2009.CS1 maint: Unfit url (link)
  4. ^ Prashanth Jaikumar; Meyer; Kaori Otsuki; Rachid Ouyed (2007). "Nucleosynthesis in neutron-rich ejecta from Quark-Novae". Astronomy and Astrophysics. 471: 227–236. arXiv:nucl-th/0610013. Bibcode:2007A&A...471..227J. doi:10.1051/0004-6361:20066593.
  5. ^ Astronomy Now Online - Second Supernovae Point to Quark Stars
  6. ^ Leahy, Denis; Ouyed, Rachid (2008). "Supernova SN2006gy as a first ever Quark Nova?". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 387 (3): 1193. arXiv:0708.1787. Bibcode:2008MNRAS.387.1193L. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2008.13312.x.

External links


ASASSN-15lh (supernova designation SN 2015L) is an extremely bright astronomical transient discovered by the All Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae (ASAS-SN), with the appearance of a hypernova event. It was first detected on June 14, 2015, located within a faint galaxy in the southern constellation Indus, and is the brightest supernova-like object ever observed. At its peak, ASASSN-15lh was 570 billion times brighter than the Sun, and 20 times brighter than the combined light emitted by the Milky Way Galaxy. The emitted energy was exceeded by PS1-10adi.

The nature of ASASSN-15lh is disputed. The most popular explanations are that it is the most luminous type I supernova (hypernova) ever observed, or a tidal disruption event around a supermassive black hole. Other hypotheses include: gravitational lensing; a quark nova inside a Wolf–Rayet star; or a rapid magnetar spindown.


In physics, deconfinement (in contrast to confinement) is a phase of matter in which certain particles are allowed to exist as free excitations, rather than only within bound states.

Electroweak star

An electroweak star is a theoretical type of exotic star, whereby the gravitational collapse of the star is prevented by radiation pressure resulting from electroweak burning, that is, the energy released by conversion of quarks to leptons through the electroweak force. This process occurs in a volume at the star's core approximately the size of an apple, containing about two Earth masses.The stage of life of a star that produces an electroweak star is theorized to occur after a supernova collapse. Electroweak stars are denser than quark stars, and may form when quark degeneracy pressure is no longer able to withstand gravitational attraction, but may still be withstood by electroweak burning radiation pressure. This phase of a star's life may last upwards of 10 million years.

Gamma-ray burst progenitors

Gamma-ray burst progenitors are the types of celestial objects that can emit gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). GRBs show an extraordinary degree of diversity. They can last anywhere from a fraction of a second to many minutes. Bursts could have a single profile or oscillate wildly up and down in intensity, and their spectra are highly variable unlike other objects in space. The near complete lack of observational constraint led to a profusion of theories, including evaporating black holes, magnetic flares on white dwarfs, accretion of matter onto neutron stars, antimatter accretion, supernovae, hypernovae, and rapid extraction of rotational energy from supermassive black holes, among others.There are at least two different types of progenitors (sources) of GRBs: one responsible for the long-duration, soft-spectrum bursts and one (or possibly more) responsible for short-duration, hard-spectrum bursts. The progenitors of long GRBs are believed to be massive, low-metallicity stars exploding due to the collapse of their cores. The progenitors of short GRBs are thought to arise from mergers of compact binary systems like neutron stars, which was confirmed by the GW170817 observation of a neutron star merger and a kilonova.

Index of physics articles (Q)

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.

Outline of astronomy

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to astronomy:

Astronomy – studies the universe beyond Earth, including its formation and development, and the evolution, physics, chemistry, meteorology, and motion of celestial objects (such as galaxies, planets, etc.) and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth (such as the cosmic background radiation).

Quark star

A quark star is a hypothetical type of compact exotic star, where extremely high temperature and pressure has forced nuclear particles to form quark matter, a continuous state of matter consisting of free quarks.

It is well known, both theoretically and observationally, that some massive stars collapse to form neutron stars, at the end of their life cycle. Under the extreme temperatures and pressures inside neutron stars, the neutrons are normally kept apart by a degeneracy pressure, stabilizing the star and hindering further gravitational collapse. However, it is hypothesized that under even more extreme temperature and pressure, the degeneracy pressure of the neutrons is overcome, and the neutrons are forced to merge and dissolve into their constituent quarks, creating an ultra-dense phase of quark matter based on densely packed quarks. In this state, a new equilibrium is supposed to emerge, as a new degeneracy pressure between the quarks, as well as repulsive electromagnetic forces, will occur and hinder gravitational collapse. If these ideas are correct, quark stars might occur, and be observable, somewhere in the universe. Theoretically, such a scenario is seen as scientifically plausible, but it has been impossible to prove both observationally and experimentally, because the very extreme conditions needed for stabilizing quark matter can not be created in any laboratory nor observed directly in nature. The stability of quark matter, and hence the existence of quark stars, is for these reasons among the unsolved problems in physics.

If quark stars can form, then the most likely place to find quark star matter would be inside neutron stars that exceed the internal pressure needed for quark degeneracy - the point at which neutrons break down into a form of dense quark matter. They could also form if a massive star collapses at the end of its life, provided that it is possible for a star to be large enough to collapse beyond a neutron star but not large enough to form a black hole. However, as scientists are unable so far to explore most properties of quark matter, the exact conditions and nature of quark stars, and their existence, remain hypothetical and unproven. The question whether such stars exist and their exact structure and behavior is actively studied within astrophysics and particle physics.

If they exist, quark stars would resemble and be easily mistaken for neutron stars: they would form in the death of a massive star in a Type II supernova, be extremely dense and small, and possess a very high gravitational field. They would also lack some features of neutron stars, unless they also contained a shell of neutron matter, because free quarks are not expected to have properties matching degenerate neutron matter. For example, they might be radio-silent, or not have typical sizes, electromagnetic fields, or surface temperatures, compared to neutron stars.

The hypothesis about quark stars was first proposed in 1965 by Soviet physicists D. D. Ivanenko and D. F. Kurdgelaidze. Their existence has not been confirmed. The equation of state of quark matter is uncertain, as is the transition point between neutron-degenerate matter and quark matter. Theoretical uncertainties have precluded making predictions from first principles. Experimentally, the behaviour of quark matter is being actively studied with particle colliders, but this can only produce very hot (above 1012 K) quark-gluon plasma blobs the size of atomic nuclei, which decay immediately after formation. The conditions inside compact stars with extremely high densities and temperatures well below 1012 K can not be recreated artificially, as there are no known methods to produce, store or study "cold" quark matter directly as it would be found inside quark stars. The theory predicts quark matter to possess some peculiar characteristics under these conditions.

Rothney Astrophysical Observatory

The Rothney Astrophysical Observatory (RAO) is an astronomical observatory located near the hamlet of Priddis, Alberta, Canada, about 25 kilometres (16 mi) southwest of Calgary. The observatory is owned and operated by the University of Calgary (UC), and was dedicated in 1972. The facility is used for research, undergraduate and graduate teaching, and public outreach. Research performed at the RAO included a variable star search program, follow-up observations of variable star discoveries, and detailed investigation of binary stars. An outstanding minor planet search program was also performed with comet discoveries by Rob Cardinal. The RAO now participates in many follow-up observation programs, including the Quark Nova project.

SN 2005gj

SN 2005gj was a supernova located approximately 864 million light years (265 million parsecs) away from Earth. It was discovered on September 29, 2005, by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the Nearby Supernova Factory. 2005gj was noted because it had qualities of both type Ia and type IIn supernovae, and because hydrogen emission lines were found in its spectrum (see hydrogen spectral series). These hydrogen lines, which were found on the spectrum at redshift z=0.0613, are thought to be indicative of interactions with a circumstellar medium (CSM; a donut-shaped, nebula-like ring of matter around a star) by the supernova's ejected matter or white dwarf progenitor. Such emission lines are extremely rare in Type Ia supernovae – only one other Type Ia, SN 2002ic, has been observed to exhibit the same properties. However, 2005jg's CSM interaction was much stronger and more clearly observed than 2002ic's. The mass-loss history 2005gj's hydrogen lines suggest has been cited as evidence that Luminous Blue Variable (LBV) hypergiants can be progenitors of thermonuclear supernovae.2005gj was also noted for its overluminosity. With a light curve that maximised 14–47 days after the initial observation, it was three times more luminous than SN 1991T (which was, at the time of its 1991 discovery, the brightest Ia supernova on record), 1.5 times more luminous than SN 2002ic, and close to 100 times more luminous than previously thought possible. Scientists Denis Leahy and Rachid Ouyed from the University of Calgary contend that the incidence of a quark nova, a very luminous process involving the degeneration of neutrons into their constituent quarks, could explain the unusual magnitude of the luminosity.

SN 2006gy

SN 2006gy was an extremely energetic supernova, also referred to as a hypernova or quark-nova, that was discovered on September 18, 2006. It was first observed by Robert Quimby and P. Mondol, and then studied by several teams of astronomers using facilities that included the Chandra, Lick, and Keck Observatories. In May 2007 NASA and several of the astronomers announced the first detailed analyses of the supernova, describing it as the "brightest stellar explosion ever recorded". In October 2007 Quimby announced that SN 2005ap had broken SN 2006gy's record as the brightest ever recorded supernova, and several subsequent discoveries are brighter still. Time magazine listed the discovery of SN 2006gy as third in its Top 10 Scientific Discoveries for 2007.

Superluminous supernova

A super-luminous supernova (SLSN, plural super luminous supernovae or SLSNe), also known as a hypernova, is a type of stellar explosion with a luminosity 10 or more times higher than that of standard supernovae. Like supernovae, SLSNe seem to be produced by several mechanisms, which is readily revealed by their light-curves and spectra. There are multiple models for what conditions may produce an SLSN, including core collapse in particularly massive stars, millisecond magnetars, interaction with circumstellar material (CSM model), or pair-instability supernovae.

Hypernovae produce long gamma ray bursts (GRBs), which range from 2 seconds to over a minute in duration.

GRBs were initially detected on July 2, 1967 by US military satellites in high orbit, which were meant to detect gamma radiation. The US had suspected the USSR of conducting secret nuclear tests despite signing the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty of 1963, and the Vela satellites were capable of detecting explosions behind the moon. The satellites detected a signal, but it was unlike that of a nuclear weapon signature, nor could it be correlated to solar flares.Over the next few decades, the GRBs posed a compelling mystery. Gamma rays require highly energetic events to be produced, yet GRBs could not be correlated to supernovae, solar flares, or any other activity in the sky. Their brevity made them difficult to trace. Once their direction could be determined, it was found that they were evenly spread across the sky. Thus they were not originating in the Milky Way or nearby galaxies, but from deep space.

In February 1997, Dutch-Italian satellite BeppoSAX was able to trace GRB 970508 to a faint galaxy roughly 6 billion light years away. From analyzing the spectroscopic data for both the burst and the galaxy, Bloom et al. concluded that a hypernova was the likely cause. That same year, hypernovae were hypothesized in greater detail by Polish astronomer Bohdan Paczyński.The first hypernova observed was SN 1998bw, with a luminosity 100 times higher than a standard Type Ib.The first confirmed superluminous supernova connected to a gamma ray burst was not found until 2003, when GRB 030329 illuminated the Leo constellation. SN 2003dh represented the death of a star 25 times more massive than the sun, with material being blasted out at over a tenth the speed of light.In June 2018, AT2018cow was detected and found to be a very powerful astronomical explosion, 10 – 100 times brighter than a normal supernova.Today, it is believed that stars with M ≥ 40 M☉ produce superluminous supernovae.


A supernova ( plural: supernovae or supernovas, abbreviations: SN and SNe) is a transient astronomical event that occurs during the last stellar evolutionary stages of the life of a massive star, whose dramatic and catastrophic destruction is marked by one final, titanic explosion. This causes the sudden appearance of a "new" bright star, before slowly fading from sight over several weeks or months or years.

Supernovae are more energetic than novae. In Latin, nova means "new", referring astronomically to what appears to be a temporary new bright star. Adding the prefix "super-" distinguishes supernovae from ordinary novae, which are far less luminous. The word supernova was coined by Walter Baade and Fritz Zwicky in 1931.

Only three Milky Way, naked-eye supernova events have been observed during the last thousand years, though many have been observed in other galaxies. The most recent directly observed supernova in the Milky Way was Kepler's Supernova in 1604, but the remnants of recent supernovae have also been found. Observations of supernovae in other galaxies suggest they occur on average about three times every century in the Milky Way, and that any galactic supernova would almost certainly be observable with modern astronomical telescopes.

Theoretical studies indicate that most supernovae are triggered by one of two basic mechanisms: the sudden re-ignition of nuclear fusion in a degenerate star or the sudden gravitational collapse of a massive star's core. In the first instance, a degenerate white dwarf may accumulate sufficient material from a binary companion, either through accretion or via a merger, to raise its core temperature enough to trigger runaway nuclear fusion, completely disrupting the star. In the second case, the core of a massive star may undergo sudden gravitational collapse, releasing gravitational potential energy as a supernova. While some observed supernovae are more complex than these two simplified theories, the astrophysical mechanics have been established and accepted by most astronomers for some time.

Supernovae can expel several solar masses of material at speeds up to several percent of the speed of light. This drives an expanding and fast-moving shock wave into the surrounding interstellar medium, sweeping up an expanding shell of gas and dust observed as a supernova remnant. Supernova nucleosynthesis is a major source of elements heavier than nitrogen in the interstellar medium, and the expanding shock waves can directly trigger the formation of new stars. Supernova remnants might be a major source of cosmic rays. Supernovae might produce strong gravitational waves, though, thus far, the gravitational waves detected have been from the merger of black holes and neutron stars, such as those that can be left behind by supernovae.

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