The huge collision of neutron stars has marked a major step forward in our understanding of physics, and Einstein's Theory of Relativity.
Scientists have just witnessed what they’re called a huge “train wreck” in space after training their instruments on two neutron stars 130 million light years away. Researchers described the first evidence of a confirmed kilanova, which is the massive event when two neutron stars collide, throwing off huge amounts of gold and platinum and blasting waves of gravity all the way to Earth.
It’s yet another demonstration that Einstein’s Theory of Relativity is correct, and it’s part of a series of gravitational wave discoveries that have revolutionized the field of physics. It’s also an important development for the nascent fields of multimessenger and gravitational wave astronomy.
It was first spotted by the Laser INterferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) back on Aug. 17. A total of 3,000 scientists participated in the effort to look for the waves from the kilanova.
“For gamma ray bursts, models predict that an early X-ray emission would be seen,” said Aaron Tohuvavohu, Swift science operations and research assistant, Penn State. “But there were none detectable from this event until 9 days post-merger.”
“The early UV emission was unexpected and very exciting,” Tohuvavohu added.