Concept

Degenerate matter

Summary
Degenerate matter occurs when the Pauli exclusion principle significantly alters a state of matter at low temperature. The term used in astrophysics to refer to dense stellar objects such as white dwarfs and neutron stars, where thermal pressure alone is not enough to avoid gravitational collapse. The term also applies to metals in the Fermi gas approximation. 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 force
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