Two neutron stars slammed into each other, creating an astonishing amount of gold and helping us understand more about these exceptional events.
Scientists have spotted an incredibly violent collision deep in our universe that could help us unravel the deepest, darkest secrets of physics. In interesting quirk, the collision of two neutron stars created an estimated $10 octillion in gold, and could help use understand how gold was created.
The crash took place around 130 million years ago, during the time of the dinosaurs here on Earth, but the signal only just now reached the Earth. Such incredible collisions were already known to produce heavy elements like iron or calcium, but now we can add gold to the list.
It happened in galaxy NGC 4993 in the Hydra constellation when two neutron stars got faster and faster as they got closer together until they smashed into each other, producing an immense amount of energy. These collisions are called kilanova and they create an incredible burst of gamma rays as well as a gravitational wave, which is a ripple through space-time that was theorized by Albert Einstein.
“For the first time, NASA scientists have detected light tied to a gravitational-wave event, thanks to two merging neutron stars in the galaxy NGC 4993, located about 130 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Hydra,” reads the NASA statement. “Shortly after 8:41 a.m. EDT on Aug. 17, NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope picked up a pulse of high-energy light from a powerful explosion, which was immediately reported to astronomers around the globe as a short gamma-ray burst. The scientists at the National Science Foundation’s Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detected gravitational waves dubbed GW170817 from a pair of smashing stars tied to the gamma-ray burst, encouraging astronomers to look for the aftermath of the explosion. Shortly thereafter, the burst was detected as part of a follow-up analysis by ESA’s (European Space Agency’s) INTEGRAL satellite.”