Q and A of the Day: White Dwarfs vs. Neutron Stars?

What are five differences between white dwarfs and neutron stars?
White Dwarfs
The major difference is due to the way in which they are formed.
1. White dwarfs are formed from the collapse of low mass stars, less than about 10 time the mass of the Sun. This star loses most of its mass in a wind, leaving behind a core that is less than 1.44 solar mass. On the other hand, neutron stars are formed in the catastrophic collapse of the core of a massive star.
Other differences follow:

2. A white dwarf is supported by electron degeneracy pressure, a neutron star by neutron degeneracy pressure (go look those terms up for a quick physics lesson).
3. A white dwarf has a larger radius --about 600 times
4. A neutron star has a stronger gravitational field -about 400,000 times
5. Finally, neutron stars have higher temperatures at birth, spin faster, and have stronger magnetic fields, among other things.

Store these nuggets away for the next time you’re on Jeopardy!, or perhaps the – wait for the pun – star at your local pub's trivia night.

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