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logicboy
2003-Jun-12, 06:13 PM
In a binary system one star being a Neutron start and another a normal ( example: or sun ) star. Then the neutron star starts siphoning the matter off of the normal star, would anything happen to the neutron star?

Would the neutron star just grow in size?

What will happen to the normal star?

and now a couple crazy questions

If the star where big enough to go nova or to gamma ray burst (I think I phrased that correctly) could that force (for lack of a better word right now) launch the neutron star?

Would a neutron asteroid, if it were going fast enough, cause the Earth to explode? :D :P

Glom
2003-Jun-12, 06:22 PM
In a binary system one star being a Neutron start and another a normal ( example: or sun ) star. Then the neutron star starts siphoning the matter off of the normal star, would anything happen to the neutron star?

I think they might eventually collapse into a black hole.


If the star where big enough to go nova or to gamma ray burst (I think I phrased that correctly) could that force (for lack of a better word right now) launch the neutron star?

If the star were to go supernova or hypernova, I'd imagine the remnants would just carry on doing the orbit thang.


Would a neutron asteroid, if it were going fast enough, cause the Earth to explode? :D :P

Neutron asteroid? A lot of asteroids are much bigger than a neutron star anyway. Fast enough relative to what?

logicboy
2003-Jun-12, 06:36 PM
Neutron asteroid? A lot of asteroids are much bigger than a neutron star anyway. Fast enough relative to what?

To have enough force to destroy the Earth. Neutron stars are very very massive, if it had enough acceleration could this happen.
that was just a crazy question so don't think into it too much

The main question was about the Neutron star and what would happen when it stared siphoning matter.

nexus
2003-Jun-12, 07:19 PM
Neutron stars are so heavy that I would think just it's gravity would wreak havok on the Solar System. I don't know if it would literally blow up the Earth, but we certainly wouldn't still be here after being hit by a neutron star.

wedgebert
2003-Jun-12, 07:49 PM
Neutron stars are so heavy that I would think just it's gravity would wreak havok on the Solar System. I don't know if it would literally blow up the Earth, but we certainly wouldn't still be here after being hit by a neutron star.

Neutron stars are dense, but not all that massive. Most are only about 1 to 3 times the same of Sol. It's just crammed into sphere about 10 - 20 km across.

Now granted, a neutron star passing though our solar system would probably disturb a few orbits, depending on how deep into the system it travelled and where each planet was (I doubt Pluto or Neptune would notice much if the were as far away as their orbits take them.


If the star were to go supernova or hypernova, I'd imagine the remnants would just carry on doing the orbit thang

Probably not, not long after the supernova goes off and the shockwaves have passed by the companion nuetron star, the NS will notice an apparent decrease in the mass if the star it's orbiting (before that, the center of mass was still in the same relative point, but now some of the mass is on the opposite side of the NS), thus it'll probably have espace velocity and it'll break orbit and go shooting off on a tanget somewhere.

BigJim
2003-Jun-12, 09:40 PM
Then the neutron star starts siphoning the matter off of the normal star, would anything happen to the neutron star?

Be careful not to confuse neutron star with white dwarf. I'm assumiong you didn't, so I'll go on. Neutron stars are the incredibly dense remains of stars that have gone supernova. They are neutron degenarate; they are so dense that two dice made from neutron star material would weigh as much as Mount Everest.

We see many examples of precisely what you describe. Most of them we see as X-ray point sources, which is exactly what the Chandra Observatory looks for. What happens is that the matter from the normal star, mostly hydrogen, enters an accretion disk around the neutron star. An accretion disk is a disk of rapidly spinning material that develops around a neutron star, white dwarf, or black hole in a binary system. Eventually the material spirals into the neutron star. As it gets closer, it goes extremely fast, which heats up the gas to millions of degrees so that it glows in X-rays.


What will happen to the normal star?

In this case, it will just lose mass.


If the star where big enough to go nova

Neutron stars don't. They are supernova remnants, so they can't go supernova, and white dwarfs are responsible for what we call "novae."


or to gamma ray burst

Gamma ray bursts were discovered in the 1960s by satellites designed to detect gamma rays from nuclear weapons testing. Instead, they picked up gamma rays from space on the order of about one per day. The data was declassified and scientists began wondering what caused them. They are not concentrated in the plane of our galaxy, which means that they are in other ones. That also means that they must be enormously powerful to appear as bright as they do from their distances.

There were originally two theories for the origin of GRBs. The first was that when binary neutron stars collide, they merge into a black hole and release a tremendous amount of energy in the form of gamma rays. The second was that when very massive stars go supernova, they are so huge that the infalling material of the star smothers the shock wave, and it simply collapses with no explosion. The poles of the star fall in first, and then the equator. This immediately becomes a black hole and releases a flood of gamma rays. We now have observational evidence of optical afterglows of supernova shortly after GRBs, so it is thought that most of them are caused by this form of supernova, called a hypernova. But some could be caused by merging neutron stars; more evidence is needed. However, in either case a black hole is formed.


launch the neutron star?

So this statement does not really make any sense.

So basically, no. If the companion star of the neutron star were to go supernova, it is possible, though not very likely, that the neutron star could be blasted out of the system. However, we do see many neutron star binaries.

DStahl
2003-Jun-12, 11:41 PM
Nice answers, all. I think BigJim is in the main right on target; the siphoned hydrogen can build up on the surface of a neutron star until it's dense enough to ignite fusion explosions, can't it?

And about the asteroid: unlike a black hole, I don't think neutronium can exist in arbitrarily small masses. One can have a mini-black hole, in theory, but I just don't know that a chunk of neutronium the size of a baseball or a marble would be stable for any length of time. Anyone know for sure? Anyone know what forces, if any, would be responsible for blowing it apart?

glen chapman
2003-Jun-13, 03:06 AM
>In a binary system one star being a Neutron start and another a normal >( example: or sun ) star. Then the neutron star starts siphoning the >matter off of the normal star, would anything happen to the neutron star?

Try google searching 'blackwidow star systems'

>Would the neutron star just grow in size?

Yes but not enough to matter.

>What will happen to the normal star?

Would loose mass to the small star. Also depending on orbits; the neutron star can create enough radiation to actually begin blowing layers of the main star away.

>If the star where big enough to go nova or to gamma ray burst (I think I >phrased that correctly) could that force (for lack of a better word right >now) launch the neutron star?

Absolutely - google search runaway stars, it is surprisingly common.

Would a neutron asteroid, if it were going fast enough, cause the Earth to explode?

Tidal forces would sort Earth out long before there was an actual impact.

Glen

wedgebert
2003-Jun-13, 05:27 AM
Nice answers, all. I think BigJim is in the main right on target; the siphoned hydrogen can build up on the surface of a neutron star until it's dense enough to ignite fusion explosions, can't it?

Any hydrogen (or other elements) that make it to the surface of the neutron star would no longer be elements anymore. The gravity is so powerful that it forces to electrons and protons to fuse into neutrons.

Neutron stars are basically held up by the Pauli Exclusion Principle which says that no two identical fermions (electrons, protons, neutrons, quarks) can share the same quantum state. Basically no two objects may share the same space at the same time. (This does not hold true for bosons like photons).

There's a good quick article (with links) about The Paule Exclusion Principle (http://www.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pauli_exclusion_principle). It's a pretty important thing to know since it is one of the major factors in how chemisty, physics and many other subjects. Like the article above says, the PEP is what keeps you from falling though the floor.

Anyways, back to the point, basically you won't see fusion on neutron stars because almost all you find are neutrons. The only thing holding the neutrons up (keeping it fom collapsing) is the degeneracy pressure that keeps the neutrons from violating the PEP.

Finally, neutron stars are on riding the limit of degeneracy pressure. If you start adding more mass, then it will quickly have enough mass to overcome the degeneracy pressure and will collapse into a black hole.

Well, my science lesson for the night is over :)

tracer
2003-Jun-13, 06:08 PM
[neutron stars] are so dense that two dice made from neutron star material would weigh as much as Mount Everest.
Two Yahtzee dice, two of those big Las Vegas craps dice, or two of the huge fuzzy dice you hang from your rear-view mirror? (And what about the polyhedral dice I use for playing D&D?)


We see many examples of precisely what you describe. Most of them we see as X-ray point sources, which is exactly what the Chandra Observatory looks for. What happens is that the matter from the normal star, mostly hydrogen, enters an accretion disk around the neutron star. An accretion disk is a disk of rapidly spinning material that develops around a neutron star, white dwarf, or black hole in a binary system. Eventually the material spirals into the neutron star. As it gets closer, it goes extremely fast, which heats up the gas to millions of degrees so that it glows in X-rays.
*cough* X-Ray Bursters *cough*

wedgebert
2003-Jun-13, 08:43 PM
*cough* X-Ray Bursters *cough*

That's a nasty cough you have there. Might want to get it checked out.

Grey
2003-Jun-13, 09:03 PM
And about the asteroid: unlike a black hole, I don't think neutronium can exist in arbitrarily small masses. One can have a mini-black hole, in theory, but I just don't know that a chunk of neutronium the size of a baseball or a marble would be stable for any length of time. Anyone know for sure? Anyone know what forces, if any, would be responsible for blowing it apart?
You are correct, there is a minimum stable mass. If I recall correctly, it works out to around one solar mass, so you can't have smaller pieces of neutronium. What makes it unstable? Radioactive decay! :D No, really! Since a neutron star is all neutrons, it's really just one giant atomic nucleus (with Z of zero and a really, really high value of A). From nuclear physics, we know that an atomic nucleus gets more and more unstable with increasing atomic number; the strong force just isn't enough to hold it together. But if we modify the equations that govern nuclear binding energy to add a gravitational binding term (normally gravity is weak enough to be ignored on nuclear scales) we find that when the mass gets big enough, it can become stable once again.

However, drop below that mass, and you've got the most radioactive nucleus in the universe. To speculate, I'd expect that if it were hovering right near the edge, it might start emitting particles (and it would probably have a phenomenally short half-life), but as it drops below the stability limit, you'd get spontaneous fission as the most energetically favorable event. Once that happens, you've got two pieces well below the stability limit, and I'd expect that you'd get a cascade of fission until you get down to small enough pieces to be stable, with free neutrons flying everywhere, and an energy release comparable to the original supernova.

DStahl
2003-Jun-13, 10:03 PM
wedgebert, I think that our understanding of neutron stars has evolved to include a surface layer or layers of non-neutronium. This makes sense; while the main body of the star may be compressed enough to make neutronium the gravity at the surface might not be strong enough.

"When enough gas builds up on the neutron star surface -- in the case, helium gas -- the increased pressure raises the temperature and initiates helium fusion, a nuclear reaction that manifests itself as an X-ray burst. X-ray bursts often erupt on neutron stars in binary systems several times a day, and they are often fueled by helium fusion."

Hot stuff coming through! And even after the helium fusion, the matter in the surface layers may not end up as neutronium right away:

"Over the course of a year or two, more and more helium rains down upon the neutron star. This helium ignites and produces carbon. The carbon ash builds up under layers of new helium and other gaseous metals. When enough carbon builds up -- and the pressure raises the temperature to many times that of our Sun's core -- carbon will begin to fuse."

"Strohmayer estimated that it would take about a billion trillion pounds of carbon and a temperature of a billion degrees to create the three-hour explosion on this particular neutron star. At the rate at which material is crashing down on the star's surface, Strohmayer estimated that it would take about 1 to 2 years for that much carbon to build up. The amount of carbon consumed in the explosion was about mass of Pluto or 1/10th the total mass of the Moon."

Quotes from an article on StarStuff webpage (http://www.starstuff.org/default.asp?cover=/articles/910.asp)

(The article talks about a particular observation, of course.) Wonderful stuff!

-----

Thanks, Grey. Good information.

wedgebert
2003-Jun-13, 11:52 PM
wedgebert, I think that our understanding of neutron stars has evolved to include a surface layer or layers of non-neutronium. This makes sense; while the main body of the star may be compressed enough to make neutronium the gravity at the surface might not be strong enough.

"When enough gas builds up on the neutron star surface -- in the case, helium gas -- the increased pressure raises the temperature and initiates helium fusion, a nuclear reaction that manifests itself as an X-ray burst. X-ray bursts often erupt on neutron stars in binary systems several times a day, and they are often fueled by helium fusion."

Hot stuff coming through! And even after the helium fusion, the matter in the surface layers may not end up as neutronium right away:

-----

Thanks, Grey. Good information.

I don't think that article is correct. First off, the gravity on the edge of the neutron star isn't much lower than the gravity at the core. Most neutron stars are around 10 km in diameter, that means the surface is about 5 km away.

Not to mention that even if the surface gravity isn't enough to form neutronium out of the accreation disk material, it's still enough to force it to fuse.

The source of x-ray bursts are the materials in the accreation disk spinning so rapidly as they fall into the neutron star or black hole that they start emitting x-rays. They can get so hot that they undergo fusion as well.

BigJim
2003-Jun-14, 12:03 AM
I find myself agreeing with wedgebert. I have never heard that before in the mainstream. The gravity at the neutron star's surface is still enormous, enough that any matter that falls there will become neutronium.




BigJim wrote:
[neutron stars] are so dense that two dice made from neutron star material would weigh as much as Mount Everest.

Two Yahtzee dice, two of those big Las Vegas craps dice, or two of the huge fuzzy dice you hang from your rear-view mirror? (And what about the polyhedral dice I use for playing D&D?)

[/quote]


Yahtzee dice.




Anyways, back to the point, basically you won't see fusion on neutron stars because almost all you find are neutrons. The only thing holding the neutrons up (keeping it fom collapsing) is the degeneracy pressure that keeps the neutrons from violating the PEP.

Finally, neutron stars are on riding the limit of degeneracy pressure. If you start adding more mass, then it will quickly have enough mass to overcome the degeneracy pressure and will collapse into a black hole.

Well, not right on the edge - depending on the neutron star in question you could add one to three solar masses in most cases. I know that white dwarfs shrink when you add mass, and I assume that neutron stars do, also. Mustn't there also be a maximum stable mass for a neutron star before it collapses? I remember that the minimum radius is about two miles, though.

tracer
2003-Jun-14, 12:25 AM
Mustn't there also be a maximum stable mass for a neutron star before it collapses?
You mean, like the neutron-degeneracy equivalent of the Chandrasekhar limit?

Yep.

Problem is, last time I checked into it, the theoretical models weren't able to nail down the exact value of this limiting mass precisely. The best they could come up with was "it's somewhere between 2 solar masses and 3 solar masses."

Of course, the minimum mass for a neutron star is the Chandrasekhar limit of 1.4 (1.44?) solar masses. This means the range of masses for which a neutron star can exist is anywhere from 0.6 solar masses wide (if the upper limit on a neutron star's mass is 2 solar masses) to 1.6 solar masses wide (if the upper limit on its mass is 3 solar masses).

DStahl
2003-Jun-14, 10:50 PM
Well, I'm sure there are various models of neutron star behavior and anatomy. But the idea of a surface layer of non-neutronium is not crank science, I think:

"HONOLULU--Astronomers love watching things blow up, but they've never seen a blast quite like the one described here last week. Carbon on the surface of an ultradense star detonated in a 3-hour thermonuclear explosion, according to a report at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society's High Energy Astrophysics Division. If confirmed, the burst would be the first known cosmic explosion fueled solely by carbon rather than hydrogen or helium. That prospect, says theorist Lars Bildsten of the University of California, Santa Barbara, is "very exciting from a nuclear physics standpoint" for its potential to verify or revise models of carbon combustion."

"The blast came from a waltzing pair of stars called a 'low-mass x-ray binary.' In such a system, a dwarf star orbits closely around a neutron star, a stellar corpse that packs the mass of one or two suns into a dense ball just 20 kilometers wide. Gas from the dwarf flows into a hot spiraling disk around the neutron star. Some gas hits the star's surface, forming a compressed slurry of hydrogen, helium, and a few heavier elements. When pressures and temperatures get high enough within the thickening layer, the elements can flash-fuse in a thermonuclear explosion. Then, the layer rebuilds and the flash repeats after some interval, usually hours or days. This process continues indefinitely, although the timing changes drastically depending on the orbital dynamics of the two stars." (emphasis added)

That's from a Science article dating to November, 2000, reproduced on this page (http://wfc.sron.nl/science_4u1735_science.html). According to the article, the helium slurry on the surface of the neutron star can thicken to 20 or 30 meters before it detonates in a thermonuclear explosion.

From NASA's Imagine the Universe (http://imagine.gsfc.nasa.gov/docs/features/news/25nov02.html) site:

"Gas from EXO 0748-676's companion star flows toward the neutron star, attracted by its strong gravity. The flow of gas forms a swirling around the neutron star, called an accretion disk. Thermonuclear bursts arise soon after gas slams onto the neutron star surface. This gas, pinned to the neutron star by gravity, spreads across the surface. As more and more gas rains down, pressure builds and temperature climbs until there is enough energy for nuclear fusion. This ignites a chain reaction that engulfs the entire neutron star within a second." (emphasis added again)

But the evidence is best presented on Tod Strohmeyer's website (http://lheawww.gsfc.nasa.gov/users/stroh/). Strohmeyer has links to several papers on the analysis of observed energy bursts from neutron stars. Fascinating stuff!

Ilya
2003-Jun-15, 02:59 AM
Wedgebert --

Sorry, the article is correct, but DStahl's interpretation is not. What most of people do not seem to realize is that it is not gravity per se which squeezes matter into neutronium (or into dwarf-star matter) - it is pressure. Think of a hydrogen atom on the surface of a neutron star, and I mean truly on the surface - vacuum on one side. There is a tremendous force pulling both the proton and the electron to the other (non-vacuum) side, but no unusual force to push them toward each other. Barring very high temperature, that atom will remain as is.

Yet the next atom down does have considerable force applied to its electron shell(s) - the weight of the topmost atom, i.e. pressure! The next one suffers twice that, etc. It adds up to every neutron star having a "crust" of normal solid matter (or plasma of comparable density, if hot enough) several centimeters thick. At the bottom of this crust the pressure is great enough to crush electron shells and to form dwarf-star matter. Then there are several meters or tens of meters of dwarf-star matter until pressure becomes high enough to force electrons into protons and to form neutronium.

And yes, all of it is entirely "mainstream" - but for some reason tends not to make its way into popular literature. The only non-technical work which describes all of this in detail is "Dragon's Egg" SF story by late Robert Forward.

DStahl
2003-Jun-15, 05:39 AM
Ilya: Thank you for the explanation. That clarifies much.

All: I apologize for promulgating Bad Astronomy; pressure is certainly the proper way to view the compression of atoms into neutronium, not surface gravity.

Incidentally, Ilya, what do you know about the speculation that some neutron stars might contain 'strange' matter as well as neutrons? I seem to recall there were a couple of articles about that possiblity in the press a year or so ago, but I don't know what's happened to the concept since then.

[One brief Google later] ...As per this layman-level article (http://www.usatoday.com/news/science/astro/2002-04-11-quarkstar.htm) from USA Today of April, 2002.

tracer
2003-Jun-15, 03:48 PM
It adds up to every neutron star having a "crust" of normal solid matter (or plasma of comparable density, if hot enough) several centimeters thick. At the bottom of this crust the pressure is great enough to crush electron shells and to form dwarf-star matter.
I assume that by "dwarf-star matter," you mean "white dwarf-star matter."

I mean, red dwarf-star matter or wouldn't exactly be anything to write home about. ;)

Avatar28
2003-Jun-15, 04:25 PM
However, drop below that mass, and you've got the most radioactive nucleus in the universe. To speculate, I'd expect that if it were hovering right near the edge, it might start emitting particles (and it would probably have a phenomenally short half-life), but as it drops below the stability limit, you'd get spontaneous fission as the most energetically favorable event. Once that happens, you've got two pieces well below the stability limit, and I'd expect that you'd get a cascade of fission until you get down to small enough pieces to be stable, with free neutrons flying everywhere, and an energy release comparable to the original supernova.

So is there any conceivable method that would account for that? The only thing I can figure is a larger nearby neutron star or black hole that sucks off some mass.

BTW, I'd just like to note that it's rather disconcerting seeing someone with the same name as me and even spelled the same way. I keep seeing someone addressing you and momentarily thinking they're talking to me. :-)

Ilya
2003-Jun-16, 08:41 PM
I assume that by "dwarf-star matter," you mean "white dwarf-star matter."

Yes, I did. By the same token, every white dwarf star has a crust of normal matter several kilometers thick.



I mean, red dwarf-star matter or wouldn't exactly be anything to write home about. ;)

Depends on how jaded you are. 150 g/cm^3 is not something I normally find in my chemistry set... :lol:

eburacum45
2003-Jun-18, 12:10 PM
In the straight dope MB (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?s=&postid=3575329) Chronos suggested adding iron to a neutron star to make it collapse into a black hole.

Iron is unlikely to fuse into any other element and explode, unlike most of the matter which causes the superbursts that are seen in accreting neutron star binaries.
You would have to grind up several asteroid belts to get 1 solar mass of iron, though...
I suggested at the time that the neutron star might briefly change into a quark star, and as these are less dense, the object would probably swell before collapsing into a black hole.
If the quark matter forms at the centre of the object, and is less dense, perhaps the whole star has a convection event of some kind.
I don't know.
Perhaps quark stars do not form - there is little evidence for them.
But then there is not much evidence for black holes either.

tjm220
2003-Jun-18, 04:06 PM
In the straight dope MB (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?s=&postid=3575329) Chronos suggested adding iron to a neutron star to make it collapse into a black hole.

Iron is unlikely to fuse into any other element and explode, unlike most of the matter which causes the superbursts that are seen in accreting neutron star binaries.
You would have to grind up several asteroid belts to get 1 solar mass of iron, though...
I suggested at the time that the neutron star might briefly change into a quark star, and as these are less dense, the object would probably swell before collapsing into a black hole.
If the quark matter forms at the centre of the object, and is less dense, perhaps the whole star has a convection event of some kind.
I don't know.
Perhaps quark stars do not form - there is little evidence for them.
But then there is not much evidence for black holes either.

Quark matter less dense than neutronium? :-?

eburacum45
2003-Jun-18, 07:29 PM
Yeah- looks like I goofed-most sources say it is more dense...
silly me;
I did find a reference that said quark matter was less dense but it was (almost certainly) wrong.
so you might actually get a quark star forming as an intermediate stage between a neutron star and a black hole, and it would get smaller, and more dense.

tracer
2003-Jun-18, 07:49 PM
I mean, red dwarf-star matter wouldn't exactly be anything to write home about. ;)

Depends on how jaded you are. 150 g/cm^3 is not something I normally find in my chemistry set... :lol:
Hmmm ... when I calculate the average density of Proxima Centauri (http://www.stellar-database.com/Scripts/search_star.exe?Name=Proxima), I come up with a little over 40x the density of the sun, or about 60 g/cm^3. An impressive figure, certainly, but less than half the desnity you're talking about.

Which red dwarfs do you know of that have an average density of 150 g/cm^3?

Crow T Robot
2003-Jun-18, 07:51 PM
Here's a link to some info on Quark Stars.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1922574.stm


Let's see we call matter from a Neutron Star Neutronium
What shall we call Quark Star matter:
Quarkium
Quaronium
Quarnonium

eburacum45
2003-Jun-18, 08:13 PM
quorn

Donnie B.
2003-Jun-18, 09:04 PM
quorn
Served with lettuce, that would be Quorn on the Cobb.

Ilya
2003-Jun-19, 02:20 AM
Hmmm ... when I calculate the average density of Proxima Centauri (http://www.stellar-database.com/Scripts/search_star.exe?Name=Proxima), I come up with a little over 40x the density of the sun, or about 60 g/cm^3. An impressive figure, certainly, but less than half the desnity you're talking about.

Which red dwarfs do you know of that have an average density of 150 g/cm^3?

I goofed. I was thinking about very lowest luminosity red dwarves - they should have 80-85 Jupiter's masses and essentially same diameter as Jupiter. Yet even that comes to only 80 * 1.3 = 104 g/cm^3

Grey
2003-Jun-19, 10:11 AM
Let's see we call matter from a Neutron Star Neutronium
What shall we call Quark Star matter:
Quarkium
Quaronium
Quarnonium

"Quarkonium" is the one that's actually in use.

tracer
2003-Jun-20, 11:05 PM
We certainly couldn't call it Quarnonium. Sounds too much like what Quasars would be made of.

pmcolt
2003-Jun-21, 12:27 AM
Here's a link to some info on Quark Stars.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1922574.stm


Let's see we call matter from a Neutron Star Neutronium
What shall we call Quark Star matter:


Quarborundum? Quartz--oh, wait, that name's taken.

"Quarkonium" seems odd. Well, the 'quark' bit makes sense, and the '-ium' bit makes sense, but where'd they get the '-on-'?

Did anyone read the "Strange Threat" segment of the article? Seems like potential for the next big doomsday cult. After all, what could be more horrifying than naked quarks going around and converting things?

Grey
2003-Jun-24, 02:38 PM
"Quarkonium" seems odd. Well, the 'quark' bit makes sense, and the '-ium' bit makes sense, but where'd they get the '-on-'?
I'd be willing to bet that it got added in because names like neutronium and positronium have the "-on-" bit in them (and completely ignoring the fact that in these cases the "on" comes from the name of the particle), and because people didn't like the way "quarkium" sounded. But it is in fact the term in use, so it's unlikely to get changed at this point, whether or not it makes sense.