Researchers have discovered what they believe to be the most massive neutron star ever detected. In fact, it is so massive that it just might collapse on itself and create a black hole.

Neutron stars are known as the compressed remains of a supernova that was caused by a giant star. They are one of the densest objects in the universe. Due to their massive nature, many scientists believe that it’s only a matter of time before a neutron star collapses under its own gravity.

Recently, a team of researchers from the NANOGrav Physics Frontiers Center came across the most massive neutron star ever measured. Dubbed as the J0740+6620, it has a mass that’s 2.17 times that of the Sun. What’s even more impressive is that its mass is contained in a sphere with a diameter of only 30 kilometers.

According to the researchers, J0740+6620’s mass is pushing the limits of what the neutron star can handle.

“Neutron stars are as mysterious as they are fascinating,” lead researcher Thankful Cromartie said in a statement. “These city-sized objects are essentially ginormous atomic nuclei.”

“They are so massive that their interiors take on weird properties,” she added. “Finding the maximum mass that physics and nature will allow can teach us a great deal about this otherwise inaccessible realm in astrophysics.”

According to Cromartie and her team, due to the concentration of mass packed in their cores, neutron stars have a distinct tipping point. Once this has been reached, a neutron star will most likely collapse under its own weight, leading to the formation of a black hole.

In the case of J0740+6620, the researchers plan to continue observing the status of the neutron star. Through their study, they hope to identify the exact tipping points of neutron stars based on their mass.

“The orientation of this binary star system created a fantastic cosmic laboratory,” researcher Scott Ransom explained. “Neutron stars have this tipping point where their interior densities get so extreme that the force of gravity overwhelms even the ability of neutrons to resist further collapse.”

“Each ‘most massive’ neutron star we find brings us closer to identifying that tipping point and helping us to understand the physics of matter at these mindboggling densities,” he added.

The findings of the researchers were presented in a new study published in Nature Astronomy.

E0102 Neutron Star
This image provided by NASA shows the remnant of a supernova with a lone neutron star within it. There are only about 10 such neutron stars without companions detected within the Milky Way, and this one, in the Small Magellanic Cloud, is the first one to be found outside our galaxy. X-ray (NASA/CXC/ESO/F.Vogt et al); Optical (ESO/VLT/MUSE & NASA/STScI)