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Astronomers Witness Two Neutron Stars Merging and Creating Gold, Platinum

Astronomers Witness Two Neutron Stars Merging and Creating Gold, Platinum

"We have entered a new era of multi-messenger astronomy!" added Andrew Levan. And now, with a highly publicized announcement Monday, astrophysicists have walked through that door. However, black hole mergers are not expected to produce any electromagnetic radiation (light), meaning they can not be detected by conventional telescopes.

For the first time, scientists have seen the source of gravitational waves from two colliding neutron stars, and the space oddity doesn't stop there.

Gravitational waves are ripples in spacetime caused by ultra-powerful cosmic explosions. "Even at [full] design sensitivity and at its greatest astronomical reach, we thought there was only around a 50 per cent chance to see a gravitational wave associated with gamma-ray burst".

What's different this time is that the wave detection was matched by visual confirmation of the primeval collision.

The CGWA also had a hand in the optical aspect of the August 17 detection, via its Transient Optical Robotic Observatory of the South, a collaboration of scientists at UTRGV, Texas A&M and the National University of Cordoba (Argentina).

The giant collision between the binary neutron stars was also observed spectroscopically - with astronomers confirming the formation of gold and platinum metal weighing more than ten times that of Earth.

On Monday, coinciding with a formal announcement in WashingtonD.C., UTRGV physics faculty, students and researchers gathered on the Brownsville campus for a press conference to discuss an August 17 detection of gravitational waves created 130 million years ago by the collision of two rapidly spinning neutron stars.

Barack Obama Taps Kehinde Wiley to Paint His Presidential Portrait
It added: " Sherald challenges stereotypes and probes notions of identity through her life-size paintings of African Americans". Kehinde Wiley is genius artist known for black street culture with European classical paintings.

"Only through NSF's four-decade investment in gravitational-wave observatories, coupled with telescopes that observe from radio to gamma-ray wavelengths, are we able to expand our opportunities to detect new cosmic phenomena and piece together a fresh narrative of the physics of stars in their death throes". "That to me sums up the momentous discovery and hints at the possibilities going forward", said Petri Vaisanen, head of operations at the South African Large Telescope (SALT), which contributed to the spectral observations of the event. In this case, the audio soundtrack comes from the [gravitational wave]'chirp' of the neutron stars ... as they are orbiting together and colliding. Neutron stars are more massive than the sun, but are just the size of a city. "Before these observations, what happened when two neutron stars merged was basically just a figment of theorists' imaginations and their computer simulations". But the mind-blowing concept that the gold in our wedding rings and Rolex watches is made of neutron stardust is about to catch on.

But what are gravitational waves?

Once again, scientists have spotted gravitational waves, which are essentially ripples in the fabric of space and time created by objects moving through the universe. But what does that actually mean?

Excited astronomers talked of opening a "new chapter in astrophysics" and unlocking a "treasure trove" of new science.

The two objects, each about 12 miles (19km) in diameter, stretched and distorted space-time as they spiralled towards each other and finally collided. And somehow information about that change in gravity has to get from that object to the other objects that experience its gravity. The force of the collision threw materials into the universe, creating stars, galaxies and heavier elements. For the past century, astronomers have been trying to figure out how to detect the ripples, which were predicted by Albert Einstein in his theory of general relativity. It is scattered by matter, absorbed by matter, and reemitted by matter. It was also the first observation of an event through multiple means - gravitational waves, gamma rays, and visible light. "Gravitational wave detectors were all designed for neutron star binaries", explains Blair. Scientists pinpointed the source of that signal in the sky, and an global collaboration immediately sprung forth to observe the event with terrestrial and space observatories. "For us, that's the Holy Grail".

"Such a detection would open entirely new avenues of inquiry in many fields of astronomy and astrophysics, so it would have a huge impact on those communities and on the future of those fields". And, he says, this wouldn't be possible without the thousands of scientists, engineers, construction workers, telecommunications workers, and others who have collaborated to build the laser interferometers. "Science is a uniquely human endeavor".

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