On Massive Neutron Cores

Phys. Rev. 55, 374 – Published 15 February 1939
J. R. Oppenheimer and G. M. Volkoff


It has been suggested that, when the pressure within stellar matter becomes high enough, a new phase consisting of neutrons will be formed. In this paper we study the gravitational equilibrium of masses of neutrons, using the equation of state for a cold Fermi gas, and general relativity. For masses under 13 only one equilibrium solution exists, which is approximately described by the nonrelativistic Fermi equation of state and Newtonian gravitational theory. For masses 13<m<34 two solutions exist, one stable and quasi-Newtonian, one more condensed, and unstable. For masses greater than 34 there are no static equilibrium solutions. These results are qualitatively confirmed by comparison with suitably chosen special cases of the analytic solutions recently discovered by Tolman. A discussion of the probable effect of deviations from the Fermi equation of state suggests that actual stellar matter after the exhaustion of thermonuclear sources of energy will, if massive enough, contract indefinitely, although more and more slowly, never reaching true equilibrium.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1103/PhysRev.55.374

  • Received 3 January 1939
  • Published in the issue dated February 1939

© 1939 The American Physical Society

Authors & Affiliations

J. R. Oppenheimer and G. M. Volkoff

  • Department of Physics, University of California, Berkeley, California

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