That’s only a depressing question if you think that humanity will go on forever. Alas, nothing lasts forever, and if something could last forever, it probably wouldn’t be our struggling primate species.
But we’ll likely be around for a while yet, pondering things as we do. One of the things we love to ponder is: why don’t we hear from any other alien civilizations?
A neutron star is perhaps one of the most awe-inspiring and mysterious things in the Universe. Composed almost entirely of neutrons with no net electrical charge, they are the final phase in the life-cycle of a giant star, born of the fiery explosions known as supernovae. They are also the densest known objects in the universe, a fact which often results in them becoming a black hole if they undergo a change in mass.
For some time, astronomers have been confounded by this process, never knowing where or when a neutron star might make this final transformation. But thanks to a recent study by a team of researchers from Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany, it may now be possible to determine the absolute maximum mass that is required for a neutron star to collapse, giving birth to a new black hole.