Scientists Detect Gravitational Waves From Merger Of Two Neutron Stars

Dawn of an Era: Astronomers Hear and See Cosmic Collision

Over the previous year and a half, gravity wave detection has become fairly routine. Gravitational waves is one of the cleanest way to compute the number and preliminary computation from LIGO data yields a value of 70 kilometres per second per megaparsec. It was visible on Earth via regular light telescopes because, after getting together, these two objects rapidly twirled around each other in space and then smashed into each other, creating a massive fireball of light, which was caught by the telescopes, said the researchers.

The ripples they created spread through the Universe, some of them reaching a planet we call Earth.

"All our hopes and dreams have basically come true", Jocelyn Read, an astrophysicist at California State University, told Nature.

Not only did astronomers record the gravitational waves, but they also used this event to answer several questions. "For the binary black hole mergers LIGO has already observed, the signals were much shorter-just a fraction of a second", said Alessandra Buonanno, a UMD College Park Professor of Physics and LSC principal investigator.

Most recently, the two interferometers identified a unique source of gravity of waves and informed observatory operators to point their telescopes in the direction of their discovery. "The part that was lucky was that one of these events happened so close (only 130 million light years away) ... most people thought that we might be years away from detecting gravitational waves from a neutron star merger". "This is what caused the GW source on August 17, and the GRBs that we saw". A neutron star is about 20 kilometers, or 12 miles, in diameter and is so dense that a teaspoon of neutron star material has a mass of about a billion tons.

The giant collision between the binary neutron stars was also observed spectroscopically - with astronomers confirming the formation of gold and platinum metal weighing more than ten times that of Earth. The Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes are still watching the event, as is the Very Large Array in New Mexico.

These are small, dense stars. As the core continues to collapse, the gravity inside gets so strong it fuses protons and electrons together, forming neutrons, hence the name.

Said co-discoverer Benoit Mours of France's CNRS research institute, "We witnessed history unfolding in front of our eyes: two neutron stars drawing closer, closer... turning faster and faster around each other, then colliding and scattering debris all over the place".

However, black hole mergers are not expected to produce any electromagnetic radiation (light), meaning they can not be detected by conventional telescopes.

Valenti's team was making a nightly survey for supernovae in nearby galaxies when they were notified that the gravitational observatories had detected an event.

While the initial observations by LIGO were exciting, astronomers were confident even more monumental revelations would materialize once astronomers paired the interferometers with other astronomical instruments. But Smartt added that, by the time dusk fell in Paranal, the LIGO-Virgo collaboration had refined their localization of the GW signal, to the extent that searching for an electromagnetic counterpart became feasible.

Each observatory consists of an L-shaped tunnel.

Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network was also one of the first observatories that noticed this celestial event. But when there are ripples in space-time, it squeezes and pulls the beam which gives scientists a reading. After scientists ruled out the hypothesis regarding the gamma ray bursts and Russian nuclear bombs, the observation of the neutron stars was followed by a short gamma ray burst which quickly came after the moment of the collision.

Caltech's David H. Reitze is the executive director of the LIGO Laboratory.

Astrophysicists detailed the groundbreaking discovery during a pair of simultaneous press conferences at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., and the headquarters of the European Space Agency in Garching, Germany.

Excited astronomers talked of opening a "new chapter in astrophysics" and unlocking a "treasure trove" of new science.

Within twenty months after announcement of the first confirmed detection of gravitational waves and within two weeks of the discovery winning the Nobel Prize, the LIGO-Virgo collaboration - that includes 40 odd scientists from 13 Indian institutions - has announced once again a breathtaking discovery - first ever direct observation of gravitational waves emerging from the merger of two neutron stars.

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