Los Alamos National Laboratory, UNITED STATES
Recent advances in experiments of the symmetry energy of nuclear matter and in neutron star observations yield important new insights on the equation of state of neutron matter at nuclear densities. In this regime the EOS of neutron matter plays a critical role in determining the mass-radius relationship for neutron stars. We show how microscopic calculations of neutron matter, based on realistic two- and three-nucleon forces, make clear predictions for the relation between the isospin-asymmetry energy of nuclear matter and its density dependence, and the maximum mass and radius for a neutron star. At low densities, clustering effects are instead important for several reasons. We present preliminary Quantum Monte Carlo calculations based on realistic nuclear Hamiltonians that show the formation of alpha clusters in low density asymmetric nuclear matter.