life on a neutron star
An imaginative and tongue-in-cheek suggestion by the radio astronomer Frank Drake,1 later developed and elaborated into two science fiction novels, Dragon's Egg and Starquake by Robert Forward. In order to convey the idea that a neutron star was more like a planet than a normal star, Drake speculated that life might exist on its solid surface. The creatures he imagined were submicroscopic and made of tightly packed nuclei, rather than ordinary atoms, bound together as "nuclear molecules". Whether such bizarre molecules could exist and combine in ways complex enough to give rise to life is not known. However, if neutron star creatures did exist they would live very rapidly. Nuclear reactions happen much faster than the chemical variety, so that any life-forms on a neutron star would evolve and live their lives a million times more quickly than human beings.
The dominant animal life forms on the star are called cheela. Since they are intelligent, the cheela have roughly the same complexity as humans. That implies that they have the same number of nuclei, so it is not surprising that they weigh about the same as humans – 70 kg. The cheela are flat, amoeba-type creatures about 2.5 mm in radius and 0.5 mm high, with a density of 7 million g/cc.
Related entries gravitational life
Related categories ALTERNATIVE FORMS OF LIFE
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