You may have heard that Tungsten is a really dense metal however what is truly the most dense thing throughout the universe? In room temperature comparing chemical bond lengths and crystal shapes could help with calculating which material can take the most dense shape. However when it come to truly the most dense materials, they are formed forcefully through gravitational forces.

When the lifecycle of a star comes to an end, meaning when the star has run out of all the fuel it possessed, the energy created by the star to keep the gravitational forces from imploding the star ceases to exist. This results in the star imploding in on itself and may result in one of two things. If the mass of the star is big enough, around 5 times the mass of our sun or 5 solar masses, it will collapse into a black hole. If it is not as massive it, around 2.5 solar masses, it will collapse into a neutron star. (Lea, 2023)(Sachev, et al., 2020)

Life Cycle of a Star | The Schools' Observatory

image 1. Lifecycle of a star (The Schools’ Observatory)

In neutron stars the outer core continues the fusion process to form even heavier metals then iron which where fusion stops for normal stars, while the core is so dense that the electrons merge with protons which turns them into neutrons. This is why it is called a neutron star.  Theoreticality it is possible that the implosion of the star may result in an even denser form of a neutron star. In this case, not only the electrons and protons merge but also the neutrons that are formed and that were already their also merge into one big sea of quarks. (Cooper, 2022)s

Quarks are the current fundamental building blocks of the universe and come in  6 different types. these types are based on their chare mass and spin. However unlike the protons and neutrons they form, the charge that they posses is a fractional number. These quarks always come in aa group and they are hard to separate due to the forces that hold them together. The binding forces that gluons carry that bind the quarks are relatively week, and at rest they are nearly non existent, however once you start giving it energy to pull them apart they use the energy to create more gluons that increase the binding forces making it really hard to separate.(Britannica, 2024)

A four-by-four table of particles. Columns are three generations of matter (fermions) and one of forces (bosons). In the first three columns, two rows contain quarks and two leptons. The top two rows' columns contain up (u) and down (d) quarks, charm (c) and strange (s) quarks, top (t) and bottom (b) quarks, and photon (γ) and gluon (g), respectively. The bottom two rows' columns contain electron neutrino (ν sub e) and electron (e), muon neutrino (ν sub μ) and muon (μ), and tau neutrino (ν sub τ) and tau (τ), and Z sup 0 and W sup ± weak force. Mass, charge, and spin are listed for each particle.

image 2. Quarks (Wikipedia, 2024)

In case of the aforementioned stars, the gravitational forces are so strong that the quarks can separate causing them to flow freely withing the core of the star. Since, the star is formed of quarks it is called a quark star. Quark stars are seemingly the same as neutron stars from the outside yet on the inside it is a lot more dense and is made out of quarks.(Cooper, 2022)

the extreme forces at the core might cause the up and down quarks to turn into strange quarks, which are a lot more dense yet also more stable. it is so stable in fact that after one forms it turns the other quarks in its vicinity into strange quarks as well. through this occurrence all the quarks in the star turn into strange quarks forming the collection of quarks named strange matter.(Klähn, Blaschke, 2017)

In science in general, having a lower potential energy means that that thing is more stable. The materials and reactions always tend to move from high energy to low energy. (Hunt)

Under high pressure, the up and down quarks have a higher mass, which corresponds to energy with the relation E=mc^2, under high pressures the strange quark with the higher mass is more stable and after it is formed into strange matter it does not decompose back into up and down quarks. This means that the strange matter is a stable and possible the densest material in the universe, potentially second to the singularity at the centre of a black hole.(Workman, 2022)

These aspects of strange matter make it one of the most dangerous materials throughout the universe. Since it is stable enough to continue to exist on its own and the fact that when it touches other materials the energy released causes everything else it touches to turn into strange matter itself means that even the smallest piece of strange matter, which is named strangelets, to have the ability to destroy any planet or star it touches. Although it won’t just fly away on its own merging with a different neutron star could cause all the strange matter to spew out into space and a particle of that size and speed would mean that we wouldn’t even see it coming if one was making its way towards earth. And potentially the only way to get rid of it might be to just throw it into a black hole and hope that it never escapes.(Jaffea, et al., 2000)



Lea, R.(2023). What are neutron stars?

Sachdev, S., Hanna C., Sathyaprakash, B.S., Sholtis, S.(2020). Black hole or neutron star? LIGO-Virgo scientists find mystery object in ‘mass gap’. PennState—%20When%20the%20most%20massive%20stars,of%20stars%20called%20neutron%20stars.

Cooper, K.(2022)Quarks. What are they?

Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia (2024). quark. Encyclopedia Britannica.

Klähn, T., . Blaschke, D.B. (2017). Strange matter in compact stars.

Hunt, I.(). Thermodynamics and Stability. University of Calgary, School of Chemistry,less%20stable%20to%20more%20stable.

Workman, R.L, Particle data group (2022). Quarks. Prog.Theor.Exp.Phys.

Jaffea, R.L., Buszaa, W., Sandweissb, J., Wilczek, F. (2000). Review of Speculative “Disaster Scenarios” at RHIC.


The Schools’ Observatory (). Lifecycle of a star.

Wikipedia (2024), Quark.

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