Different kinds of pasta. (McGill University)

As substances go, “nuclear pasta” is far from a limp noodle.

According to researchers from McGill University, a substance of that name may be the strongest material in the universe.

Stronger than steel, diamond, and graphene, nuclear pasta is the material that makes up neutron stars. It is formed during implosions called supernovas that compress a sun-sized object down to about the size of Montreal.

Beneath its outer crust, opposing forces between the protons and neutrons within nuclear pasta cause the particles to form cylindrical or flat shapes which are known as “lasagna” and “spaghetti.” (Hence the name.)

“A lot of interesting physics is going on here under extreme conditions and understanding the physical properties of a neutron star is a way for scientists to test their theories and models,” according to McGill postdoctoral research fellow Matthew Caplan. “The strength of the neutron star crust, especially the bottom of the crust, is relevant to a large number of astrophysics problems, but isn’t well understood.”