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New frontier for science as astronomers witness neutron stars colliding

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The collision of a pair of neutron stars, marked by ripples through the fabric of space-time and a flash brighter than a billion suns, has been witnessed for the first time in the most intensely observed astronomical event to date.

Shoemaker was alerted by a ringtone on his phone reserved for when black holes or neutron stars collide. Neutron stars are the smallest, densest stars known to exist: about 12 miles wide, with a teaspoon of neutron star material having a mass of about a billion tons. “Neutron stars are at this sweet spot between a star and a black hole,” said Prof Andreas Freise, a Ligo project scientist at the University of Birmingham.

When Ligo’s software picked up a signal at 1:41pm UK time on 17 August, Shoemaker was one of a small team at Ligo to be alerted by a ringtone on his phone reserved for when black holes or neutron stars collide.

The wedding band on your finger or the gold watch you’re wearing was most likely produced by two neutron stars colliding.

“The wedding band on your finger or the gold watch you’re wearing was most likely produced a billion years ago by two neutron stars colliding. That’s pretty cool.”

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Article originally posted at www.theguardian.com

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