Magazine article American Scientist

Neutron Star Merger Discovery

Magazine article American Scientist

Neutron Star Merger Discovery

Article excerpt

The first direct observation of a merger of two neutron stars-the remnants of massive stars that died in a supernovas-' occurred on August 17. Gravitational waves produced by the merger, designated GW170817, were sensed first at two Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave z Observatory detectors. Less than two sec- 5 onds after that detection, NASA's Fermi | Gamma-Ray Space Telescope registered a short gammaray burst. After a rapid analysis of these twin events, more than 70 spaceand groundbased telescopes were pointed toward the site of the signals, observing it across the spectrum from radio waves to x-rays. The merger was traced to the galaxy NGC 4993, located 130 million light years from Earth. These observations will give astronomers a look inside neutron stars, and an opportunity to study their composition. …

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