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Key Terms

AstronomyKey Terms

Chandrasekhar limit
the upper limit to the mass of a white dwarf (equals 1.4 times the mass of the Sun)
degenerate gas
a gas that resists further compression because no two electrons can be in the same place at the same time doing the same thing (Pauli exclusion principle)
millisecond pulsar
a pulsar that rotates so quickly that it can give off hundreds of pulses per second (and its period is therefore measured in milliseconds)
neutron star
a compact object of extremely high density composed almost entirely of neutrons
the cataclysmic explosion produced in a binary system, temporarily increasing its luminosity by hundreds to thousands of times
a variable radio source of small physical size that emits very rapid radio pulses in very regular periods that range from fractions of a second to several seconds; now understood to be a rotating, magnetic neutron star that is energetic enough to produce a detectable beam of radiation and particles
type II supernova
a stellar explosion produced at the endpoint of the evolution of stars whose mass exceeds roughly 10 times the mass of the Sun
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