I-Love-Q: Unexpected Universal Relations for Neutron Stars and Quark Stars

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Science  26 Jul 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6144, pp. 365-368
DOI: 10.1126/science.1236462

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Neutron Star Measurements

Neutron stars are one of the densest manifestations of matter in the universe. Yagi and Yunes (p. 365) examined the moment of inertia of neutron stars, which determines how fast they can spin, and the quadrupole moment and tidal Love number, which determine how much they can be deformed. The findings suggest that these three quantities obey universal relationships that are independent of the internal structure of the stars, implying that measurements of one of the three could accurately predict the other two.


Neutron stars and quark stars are not only characterized by their mass and radius but also by how fast they spin, through their moment of inertia, and how much they can be deformed, through their Love number and quadrupole moment. These depend sensitively on the star’s internal structure and thus on unknown nuclear physics. We find universal relations between the moment of inertia, the Love number, and the quadrupole moment that are independent of the neutron and quark star’s internal structure. These can be used to learn about neutron star deformability through observations of the moment of inertia, break degeneracies in gravitational wave detection to measure spin in binary inspirals, distinguish neutron stars from quark stars, and test general relativity in a nuclear structure–independent fashion.

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