The Neutron Star Mass-Radius Relation and the Equation of State of Dense Matter
The equation of state (EOS) of dense matter has been a long-sought goal of nuclear physics. EOSs generate unique mass versus radius ( M - R ) relations for neutron stars, the ultra-dense remnants of stellar evolution. In this work, we determine the neutron star mass-radius relation and, based on recent observations of both transiently accreting and bursting sources, we show that the radius of a 1.4 solar mass neutron star lies between 10.4 and 12.9 km, independent of assumptions about the composition of the core. We show, for the first time, that these constraints remain valid upon removal from our sample of the most extreme transient sources or of the entire set of bursting sources; our constraints also apply even if deconfined quark matter exists in the neutron star core. Our results significantly constrain the dense matter EOS and are furthermore consistent with constraints from both heavy-ion collisions and theoretical studies of neutron matter. We predict a relatively weak dependence of the symmetry energy on the density and a value for the neutron skin thickness of lead which is less than 0.20 fm, results that are testable in forthcoming experiments.