A new discovery of gravitational waves from two colliding neutron stars could help us understand the deepest secrets of our universe.
The discovery of gravitational waves, first theorized by Albert Einstein many years ago, shook the scientific world more than a year ago. But now we’ve confirmed that, for the first time ever, two neutron stars produced the waves after colliding in a galaxy far, far away.
This “kilanova,” as it is called, will lead to a new era in physics where scientists will focus on electromagnetism and gravity to unravel the secrets of the universe. Researchers have theorized about mergers of neutron stars for many years before, but until now no one had ever witnessed such an incredible event take place.
The signals were obsesrved on Aug. 17 in a galaxy 130 million light years away, meaning this incredible explosion happened when dinosaurs ruled the Earth. The neutron stars spiraled toward each other at incredible speeds and then collided with astonishing energy, throwing off gravitational waves that represent the ripples of space and time itself. Our witnessing of such an event could change science forever.
“About 130 million years ago, two incredibly heavy, dense neutron stars spiraled around each other,” reads the University of Chicago statement. “Their dance brought them closer to one another and made them spin faster, until they were circling more than 100 times per second. The ensuing collision sent a shockwave through the very fabric of spacetime, which traveled across the universe at the speed of light until it rippled through the Earth at 7:41 a.m. Central time on Aug. 17, 2017. The U.S.-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory and the Virgo detector in Italy announced on Oct. 16 that all three of their detectors had picked up the ripples, or gravitational waves, from this event. Two seconds later, a satellite looking for gamma rays registered a burst from the same direction of the sky.”