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Scientists Detect Gravitational Waves From Merger Of Two Neutron Stars

18 October 2017, 7:33 am EDT By Sami Ghanmi Tech Times
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Scientists from around the world were able to observe, for the first time in history, gravitational waves emanating from the collision of two neutron stars. The first ever detection could open a new chapter in the area of astronomy and space exploration.

First Detection Of Gravitational Waves From Merger Of Two Neutron Stars

Gravitational waves are basically ripples in space-time which are produced whenever massive objects move around each other in the universe. They were first detected by scientists in 2015, however, unlike this latest cosmic event; they were created from the collision of two black holes.

This time, gravitational waves were caught emanating from the merger of binary neutron stars, a powerful event which has never been witnessed before. Neutron stars are very small in size compared to black holes and the waves that emanated from the merger were easier to observe for a longer period of time. 

Gravitational Wave Signal

The collision of the two neutron stars was first detected on Aug. 17 by the Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo gravitational-wave detectors. The signal managed to last for about 100 seconds. The Virgo detector in Italy was the first to catch the signal, followed by the LIGO detector in the United States.

As a result of the event, the scientists have managed to observe an ultraviolet light. As soon as the light began to disappear, they tried to observe it using the Swift ultraviolet/optical telescope.

"The evidence that these new gravitational waves are from merging neutron stars has been captured, for the first time, by observatories on Earth and in orbit that detect electromagnetic radiation, including visible light and other wavelengths," said Chad Hanna of Penn State's Department of Physics.

"Several graduate students and post-docs on my Penn State research team were among the first in the world to see the alert triggered by LIGO when this new gravitational wave arrived," Hanna continued.

First Detection Of Gravitational Waves In 2015

On Sept. 14, 2015, LIGO scientists were able to detect gravitational waves from colliding black holes for the first time in history. Based on the signals, it was estimated that the black holes were about 29 and 36 times the mass of the sun and the event was believed to have started about 1.3 billion years ago.

Albert Einstein's Prediction Of Gravitational Waves

Albert Einstein predicted the existence of gravitational waves way back in 1915 on the basis of his theory of general relativity. It took scientists about a century later to confirm its existence.

The Source Of Precious Metals

According to researchers, the discovery also uncovers the mystery of the origins of heavy elements. They said that many of the precious metals found on Earth, such as gold and platinum, can trace back their origin from the merger of neutron stars.

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