Degenerate matter

  • Degenerate matter
Abstract from DBPedia
    Degenerate matter is a highly dense state of fermionic matter in which the Pauli exclusion principle exerts significant pressure in addition to, or in lieu of thermal pressure. The description applies to matter composed of electrons, protons, neutrons or other fermions. The term is mainly used in astrophysics to refer to dense stellar objects where gravitational pressure is so extreme that quantum mechanical effects are significant. This type of matter is naturally found in stars in their final evolutionary states, such as white dwarfs and neutron stars, where thermal pressure alone is not enough to avoid gravitational collapse. Degenerate matter is usually modelled as an ideal Fermi gas, an ensemble of non-interacting fermions. In a quantum mechanical description, particles limited to a finite volume may take only a discrete set of energies, called quantum states. The Pauli exclusion principle prevents identical fermions from occupying the same quantum state. At lowest total energy (when the thermal energy of the particles is negligible), all the lowest energy quantum states are filled. This state is referred to as full degeneracy. This degeneracy pressure remains non-zero even at absolute zero temperature. Adding particles or reducing the volume forces the particles into higher-energy quantum states. In this situation, a compression force is required, and is made manifest as a resisting pressure. The key feature is that this degeneracy pressure does not depend on the temperature but only on the density of the fermions. Degeneracy pressure keeps dense stars in equilibrium, independent of the thermal structure of the star. A degenerate mass whose fermions have velocities close to the speed of light (particle energy larger than its rest mass energy) is called relativistic degenerate matter. The concept of degenerate stars, stellar objects composed of degenerate matter, was originally developed in a joint effort between Arthur Eddington, Ralph Fowler and Arthur Milne. Eddington had suggested that the atoms in Sirius B were almost completely ionised and closely packed. Fowler described white dwarfs as composed of a gas of particles that became degenerate at low temperature. Milne proposed that degenerate matter is found in most of the nuclei of stars, not only in compact stars.

    フェルミ縮退(フェルミしゅくたい、英語: Fermi degeneracy)とは、金属などの高密度な物質において、フェルミ粒子が取れる量子状態が強く限定されていることにより、古典論では説明できない物性を示すことをいう。フェルミ縮退している物質を、縮退物質(degenerate matter)と呼ぶ。 フェルミ粒子は、パウリの排他原理により、複数の粒子が同一の状態を取ることができない。従って、あるエネルギーの値を取れる粒子の数は、そのエネルギーの状態の数までが限界である。温度、すなわち粒子の平均運動エネルギーを下げていくと、粒子はエネルギーの低い状態へ移っていこうとする。しかし、エネルギーの低い状態がこの粒子数の限界に達してしまうと、エネルギーが高いままで残らざるを得ないことになる。このような状態になることを、フェルミ縮退もしくは単に縮退という。 粒子の密度が高ければ、粒子数の限界に達しやすくなるので、フェルミ縮退が起こりやすくなる。恒星の中心核は超高密度であるため、数億Kという高温でありながら、フェルミ縮退が起こることがある。