Gravitational ripples from a pair of colliding neutron stars detected

Shane McGlaun - Jan 8, 2020, 8:27 am CST
Gravitational ripples from a pair of colliding neutron stars detected

Caltech researchers are reporting that the LIGO Livingston Observatory has picked up what appears to be gravitational ripples from the collision of a pair of neutron stars. LIGO Livingston is part of the gravitational-wave network that incudes LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) funded by the National Science Foundation, and the European Virgo detector.

LIGO Livingston picked up what appeared to be gravitational ripples from the collision of two neutron stars. A new study has confirmed the event detected is likely the result of the merger of two neutron stars. Researchers say that this is only the second time that this type of event has been observed in gravitational waves.

The first such detection happened in August 2017 and was noted for being the first time that gravitational waves and light were detected from the same cosmic event. The new event append n April 25, 2019, and no light was detected. Analysis of the gravitational-wave data shows that the collision produced an object with an unusually high mass.

The team says that from conventional observations with light, we already knew of 17 binary neutron star systems in our galaxy, and the masses of the stars were measured. The surprise in this event is that the combined mass of the binary was much higher than expected. Neutron stars are the remnants of dying stars that undergo catastrophic explosions as they collapse.

When two neutron stars spiral together, they undergo a merger that is violent and sends gravitational shudders through the fabric of space and time. LIGO made the first direct detection for gravitational waves in 2015, which were generated by two colliding black holes. The April 2019 event was identified first by the LIGO Livingston detector alone. The incident happened more than 500 million light-years from Earth.

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