Neutron star collision rocks the universe



Light rays that were emitted from the two neutron stars impacting captured from the Hubble Space Telescope

Nichole Crawley, Staff Reporter

It may have gone unnoticed to the public eye, but on Tuesday October 17th, there were major breakthroughs made in the science community after two neutron stars collided right in front of the lens of a telescope.

Neutron stars are burned out remnants of giant stars so dense that a teaspoon of their material on Earth would weigh a billion tons. The collision between the two 12 mile diameter objects were picked up on Earth by two incredibly sensitive detectors in Washington and Louisiana in the US, as they stretched and distorted space time while they spiraled towards each other and finally collided.

Scientist Ryan Foley explained in an article to the New York Times that these two stars slammed into each other in deep space about 130 million light years away, spewing out precious metal such as gold and platinum in a relatively old galaxy called NGC 4993. When the gravitational waves began their journey across space, dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

This marks only the fifth time that gravitational waves have been spotted on Earth. Scientists didn’t just “hear” the violent blast but were able to use telescopes on satellites and the ground to see the light and radiation being flung out of the explosion, known as a “kilonova”.

The only ever time this technology has been able to be used is when it has detected black holes crashing together in remote regions of the universe more than a billion light years away. Which confirmed a prediction made by Albert Einstein 100 years ago and earned three pioneers of the project a Nobel Prize.

Yet even though these scientific breakthroughs are having astounding effects by confirming theories about the origin of the mysterious neutron stars, they have not permeated the walls of Normal West. This story has been kept off the radar of the science department except for the one teacher that caught the story the day it was reported.

“It was a way to confirm something that we could actually see that was predicted. It’s a very cool thing when a tool shows actual usefulness and a nice to know that something that cost a lot of money to develop that equipment obtains accurate results and not just an overall waste of money. This breakthrough helps to advance knowledge and now we know more about some of the weird things that happen to stars after they die,” commented Mr. Burt, a science teacher at Normal West.

This event is going to be vital for the years to come as scientists learn more about the beginnings of such stars and the entire universe. Opening new doors for a new way of doing astrophysics as well as going down as one of the most astrophysical events in history.