LIGO Announcement: Neutron Stars Collide, Explode In Never-Before Observed Kilonova

The LIGO gravitational-wave detectors in Hanford Washington, and Livingston Louisiana

The deluge brought the news: Telescopes and detectors across the world were making a monumental observation. This radio discovery was made by the Jansky VLA mapping of Gravitational Wave bursts as Afterglows in Radio (JAGWAR) team, where Hallinan played a key role.

Neutron stars, the densest in the universe and measuring just 10km across, are found alone but also in pairs orbiting each other.

Two views of the gravitational wave source GW170817. But it's not just gravitational waves.

As well, 12 hours later, several optical telescopes announce to have spotted a point of light in this portion of the sky.

There were only two phenomena which scientists thought were capable of producing the extraordinary gravitational forces needed to forge the heaviest elements in the universe. It also posed new ones.

The collision put out light in the form of a two-second gamma ray burst.

Less than two years have passed since scientists working at labs including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the California Institute of Technology first detected gravitational waves coming off two black holes.

The breakthrough was made by the USA -based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), the Europe-based Virgo detector and 70 ground- and space-based observatories. LIGO was also the place where gravitational waves have been previously detected.

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The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory - or LIGO - consists of two vacuum tubes surrounded by concrete.

"This is the first time a gamma-ray burst has been seen whose jet wasn't directly pointed at Earth", said Corsi, an assistant professor at Texas Tech. "It is a triumph for the theorists, a confirmation that the LIGO-Virgo events are absolutely real, and an achievement for ESO to have gathered such an astonishing data set on the kilonova". The collision would have sent a bright beam of radiation outward in an explosion, called a kilonova, and gravitational waves towards the Earth.

"We've never witnessed a collision between binary neutron stars", he said. "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", said Vicky Kalogera, an astrophysicist at Northwestern University and a LIGO collaborator. Knowing there's a auto, but not seeing it in your rearview, means it must be in your blind spot. Some telescopes mapped the entire area while others concentrated on looking at the brightest local galaxies. The astronomers also obtained the earliest spectra of the collision, which may allow them to explain how numerous universe's heavy elements were created-a decades old question for astrophysicists.

Those radio and X-ray observations became key to deciphering the mystery of the too-dim gamma rays, according to the Tech release. "LIGO tells us there was a merger of compact objects, and Fermi tells us there was a short gamma-ray burst". "Every part of the spectrum tells us something different about the merger". The aftermath of a neutron star merger is marked with a red arrow. The gamma-rays weren't as strong as they should have been, for example - but other measurements confirmed that the neutron stars were surprisingly close. "We should know about this in just a few months". This would be bolstered by the fact that neutrino detectors didn't spot any of their tiny, charge-less particles. Either an even bigger neutron star is born or a black hole is made.

Neutron stars are the smallest, densest stars known to exist and are formed when massive stars explode in supernovae. Any more massive, and the star will collapse into a black hole. Ehud Nakar of TAU's Raymond and Beverly Sackler School of Physics and Astronomy, who together with his graduate student Ore Gottlieb led the theoretical analysis for the new studies on the discovery appearing today in Science and Nature. Promises to distribute any materials at all prior to the announcement were delayed.

The existence of gravitational waves was first predicted by Albert Einstein a century ago. At present, the detectors are all receiving sensitivity upgrades. The information provided by the third detector, Virgo, situated near Pisa, Italy, enabled an improvement in localizing the cosmic event, these scientists said.

UM physics and astronomy professor David Gerdes, a member of the DECam team, called this one of the most important astronomical discoveries of his career.

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