The collision of two neutron stars may have just produced the first ever confirmed case of gravitational waves from such a phenomenon, which would be a huge breakthrough.
As the entire world was focused on the Great American Solar Eclipse that took place Monday coast to coast in the United States, scientists were focused on an entirely different celestial phenomenon that could have much greater scientific significance. Since mid-August, scientists using the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) may have detected gravitational waves from merging neutron stars.
It’s yet another huge discovery by LIGO if ture. LIGO made headlines in February 2016 when it confirmed the presence of gravitational waves after two black holes collided, and then confirmed a second instance just a few months lader involving black holes. In January, they once against spotted a gravitational wave-produce black hole merger.
The latest discovery was made in the galaxy NGC 4993, about 134 million light years away in the Hydra constellation. If confirmed, it would be the first case of a neutron star collision causing gravitational waves.
“The twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors–located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington–detected the gravitational wave event, named GW170104,” said a recent statement from the University of Maryland about the most recent June discovery of gravitational waves, which involved black holes. “The LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) and the Virgo Collaboration published a report describing the discovery and its implications on June 1, 2017 in the journal Physical Review Letters.
“Gravitational waves carry information about their origins and about the nature of gravity that cannot otherwise be obtained. Physicists on the LIGO and Virgo teams concluded that, as with LIGO’s first two historic detections, the final moments of a black hole merger produced the gravitational waves that LIGO observed on January 4, 2017.”