White dwarf matter, neutron-degenerate matter (I'm still confused as to whether this is the same thing as "neutronium" or not), and other possible types of degenerate matter like quark stars are generally discussed in the context of stars, that have cooled enough that gas pressure cannot support them against gravity. People do not often discuss the potential for small chunks of degenerate matter, which I know well would be explosively unstable in the absence of a non-gravitational constraining force.

It seems somewhat intuitively possible that white-dwarf-like or neutron-star-like matter could be artificially produced in small quantities by a vast cosmically scaled-up version of some of the machinery currently used in inertial-confinement fusion research to compress deuterium pellets to truly unreasonable densities. Of course, degenerate matter created by such a method would immediately explode back into normal matter with even more rapidity than the deuterium. (and somehow I feel like the resulting storm of relativistic baryons would possibly destroy the machine).

So I ask whether there's any physically plausible method by which neutron-star-like or white-dwarf-like degenerate matter could be artificially produced in the steady state, other than by accumulating enough matter in a star that its own gravity crushes it.

  • $\begingroup$ It is possible to see degeneracy forces via imploding wire arrays, but these are pulsed power. In terms of steady state methods the state-of-art lies within diamond anvil technologies that are far from those kinds of pressure. $\endgroup$
    – Akerai
    Commented Sep 9, 2019 at 7:46

1 Answer 1


Plausible? No.

For the "non-explodey" part, I'll read "operating at low energies, such that we can treat the fundamental forces as the quartet gravity, electromagnetic, weak and strong nuclear forces".

You eliminated gravity explicitly. Given that we're talking about neutrons, electro-magnetic forces can be ignored. Since we're talking about a "clump" of neutrons, the weak and strong nuclear forces will be dominated by the internal forces from neutrons on each other, not by external forces from the machinery. This is because the nuclear forces are short-range forces, as the name already says. Obviously the external machinery has to be more than one atom radius away, else its electron orbits would significantly overlap your neutron matter.

As a result, we can conclude that none of the 4 fundamental forces can be used by a machine to keep your neutrons together.

  • $\begingroup$ Don't neutrons have spin, which makes them react to magnetism? $\endgroup$
    – ikrase
    Commented Sep 11, 2019 at 3:16
  • $\begingroup$ @ikrase: Yes, but only to a very limited amount. Also, I don't see which sort of magnetic field would create the inward forces needed to contain the degenerate neutron mass. You can't put a magnetic monopole in the center. $\endgroup$
    – MSalters
    Commented Sep 11, 2019 at 9:53

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.