Tags: neutron | stars | collide | fireball

Neutron Stars Collide, Telescopes Capture Fireball for 1st Time

This animation visualizes what happens when neutron stars collide. (NASA Goddard/YouTube)

By    |   Monday, 16 Oct 2017 03:47 PM

The fireball made when two neutron stars collide has been observed by telescopes for the first time.

Neutron stars are the small remnants of stars that have collapsed and burst, but they are much denser than the sun. The stars spiral around each other at high speed before crashing together and creating a huge fireball, which telescopes were able to capture after detecting the gravitational waves Aug. 17, CNN reported.

The stars' collision is estimated to have taken place 130 million years ago, but it was only observed recently because of the stars' distance from Earth, CNN reported. Scientists’ observations have answered many questions about how neutron stars function, as well as allowed calculations about the universe’s rate of expansion and the ways in which heavy metals may be deposited on different planets.

Scientists called the collision a “cosmic forge,” in which heavy metals including gold, silver, platinum and uranium were thought to have been formed and then expelled outward, CNN reported. Scientists believe the heavy metals found on Earth were probably deposited in this manner by a previous neutron star collision.

LIGO and Virgo observatories picked up the gravitational waves, and telescopes were able to find the visual of the collision.

“This is a revolution in astronomy, of having thousands of astronomers focus on one source for weeks and having this collaboration unravel in seconds, in hours, then days and weeks,” LIGO astrophysicist from Northwestern University Vicky Kalogera told The Verge. “For us, that’s the Holy Grail.”

The gravitational waves were discovered less than two years ago, the first time waves of neutron stars were detected, The Verge noted. Previous wave detections have all been from black holes, which do not emit light.

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The fireball made when two neutron stars collide has been observed by telescopes for the first time. Neutron stars are the small remnants of stars that have collapsed and burst, but they are much denser than the sun.
neutron, stars, collide, fireball
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2017-47-16
Monday, 16 Oct 2017 03:47 PM
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