Tuesday's HOT MIC
Two neutron stars collide and hey! We got pictures!
The eruption of light and gravitational waves (ripples in the universal fabricknown as space-time) was produced by an event known as a kilonova, or the collision and merger of two neutron stars, which are the dead cores of stars that stopped burning fuel. This is the first time scientists have directly observed a kilonova eruption, scientists said during a news conference today (Oct. 16).
Astronomers at today's news conference said that this detection of both light and gravitational waves marks the beginning of the era of multimessenger astrophysics, which means studying the cosmos with fundamentally different types of information, such as gravitational waves and light. [Gravitational Waves from Neutron Stars: The Discovery Explained]
Dozens of observatories detected the event using every wavelength of light, from radio waves to gamma-rays. The event was observed in gravitational waves by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), which has two detectors located in the U.S., and the Virgo gravitational-wave observatory in Italy.
Gravitational waves, first detected by LIGO in 2015, are produced by the acceleration of gigantic objects in the universe (such as colliding black holes or neutron stars).
Not really much to see but the fact that we could image the event at all is astounding.
The kilonova explosion was spotted in the galaxy NGC 4993, which is shown here in an image from the Hubble Space Telescope. The kilonova is visible here to the upper left of the very bright galactic center, and appears as a golden-yellow spot. Astronomers have two names for the Aug. 17 event, depending on what type of phenomenon is referred to. GW170817 refers to the gravitational waves observed from the merger, while GRB 170817A looks at the gamma-ray burst produced by the neutron-star merger. Gamma-ray bursts are the brightest known electromagnetic events in the universe, and can be created by a few different phenomena.
"Kilonova" -- got to find a way to use that in politics. "Donald Trump's latest tweets have detonated a kilonova on the twitterverse."
Have to work on it.
The coolest thing I ever read about a neutron star was when I was a kid and read in an astronomy book that "a single teaspoon of matter from a neutron star weighs as much as Mount Everest."
Now two of them have collided and astronomers have been able to observe the phenomenon in every wavelength of light from radio waves to gamma rays and have also been able to utilize the new science of observable gravitational waves.