Lecture in the series "Brötchen und Borussia" by PD Dr. Dominik Elsässer (TU Dortmund)
The sun, our Earth's star, has been providing us with light and heat for more than 4 billion years. But the life of stars lasts long, but not forever. More massive stars than our sun have a much shorter and stormier life, ending in a catastrophic explosion - a supernova. Such stellar explosions probably occur about twice a century in our Milky Way, even though more than 4 centuries have passed since the last galactic supernova observed by humans. But what we find in large numbers in our home galaxy are the star corpses left behind by such a supernova. In many cases these are so-called neutron stars. Objects, smaller than the Ruhr area and nevertheless with more than the mass of our sun. Often these neutron stars also exhibit very strong magnetic fields - several million times stronger than the strongest fields mankind is capable of producing. Rotating neutron stars often reveal themselves by regular pulses of radiation and are therefore called "pulsars". In this talk, we will look at how the truly hellish conditions on such neutron stars can open windows into physics under extreme conditions.