‘Impossible’ neutron stars could explain strange flashes

The oscillating frequencies of two short gamma-ray bursts are the best evidence yet for the formation of ‘impossible’ hypermassive neutron stars that can briefly defy gravity before collapsing to form a black hole.

A neutron star forms when a large star runs out of fuel and explodes, leaving behind a super-dense remnant that can pack the mass of the sun into the space of a city. Usually, a neutron star can only contain a bit more than two times the mass of the sun before it undergoes gravitational collapse to form a black hole. However, when two regular neutron stars in a binary system merge, their combined mass can exceed this limit — but only briefly, and the stage is difficult to spot.

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