Speaking of Science Scientists detect gravitational waves from a new kind of nova
Some 130 million years ago, in a galaxy far away, the smoldering cores of two collapsed stars smashed into each other. The resulting explosion sent a burst of gamma rays streaming through space and rippled the very fabric of the universe. On Aug. 17, those signals reached Earth — and sparked an astronomy revolution.
The distant collision created a “kilonova,” an astronomical marvel that scientists have never seen before. It was the first cosmic event in history to be witnessed via both traditional telescopes, which can observe electromagnetic radiation like gamma rays, and gravitational wave detectors, which sense the wrinkles in space-time produced by distant cataclysms.
The detection, which involved thousands of researchers working at more than 70 laboratories and telescopes on every continent, heralds a new era in space research known as “multimessenger astrophysics.”
This is the breakthrough scientists have been waiting for since the initial detection of gravitational waves two years ago. Now, for the first time, they are able to observe the universe using two fundamental forces: light and gravity.
By combining traditional visual astronomy with the Nobel Prize-winning work of gravitational wave researchers, astronomers have new means to probe some of their field’s most enduring mysteries: the unknown force that drives the accelerating growth of the universe, the invisible matter that holds galaxies together, and the origins of Earth’s most precious elements, including silver and gold. Read More
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