Science

Collision Between Two Neutron Stars Observed By Scientists

Collision Between Two Neutron Stars Observed By Scientists”

And on Anzac Day this year, we felt it on Earth.

Just weeks after it resumed operations, the National Science Foundation's Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) may have detected the first ever observed merger between a black hole and a neutron star. Astronomers across the world are now focusing their observations on this area of space in a bid to collect more information.

NSF Director France Córdova said, "Once again, we have witnessed the remarkable phenomenon of a neutron star merger, followed up closely by another possible merger of collapsed stars".

"Unfortunately, the signal is rather weak", Patrick Brady, a physicist at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee and spokesperson for the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, said in a news release.

"We're especially curious about the April 26 candidate".

Professor Brady added: 'It's like listening to somebody whisper a word in a busy café; it can be hard to make out the word or even to be sure that the person whispered at all. "It will take some time to reach a conclusion about this".

"It's going to take probably months to really fully analyse what's going on and in the end we may not be able to even definitively say what it was", Professor Scott said. However, on April 26, the LIGO-Virgo network observed another source with a freaky twist: it may have resulted from the collision between a neutron star and a black hole, which LIGO says has never been witnessed before.

The latest run of data collection has also yielded three signals that researchers believe likely came from the merging of black holes.

The other two events are more intriguing.

Moving at the speed of light, these waves are so infinitesimally small that the biggest of them would only cause a disturbance a fraction of the size of an atom here on Earth.

This brings LIGO and Virgo's total count of detected black hole collisions up to ten.

The existence of gravitational waves was a prediction of Einstein's theory of relativity, which proposed that an object's mass can bend the fabric of time and space.

The three detectors together can help narrow down the direction from which the waves are coming. Now observatories around the world can look towards the source of the collision and hopefully see light waves which match with the detected gravitational waves. Gravitational wave detectors are a series of tubes that can track minuscule distortions in space-time. Hundreds of astronomers eagerly pointed telescopes at patches of sky suspected to house the signal sources. "We know it happened but we do not know where".

Scientists may have detected a "violent" collision between a neutron star and a black hole, however, they are not sure what sparked this mysterious space occurrence. That means telescopes sensitive to light waves across the electromagnetic spectrum can witness these fiery impacts together with LIGO and Virgo.

Using the SkyMapper telescope, Professor Scott and her team imaged the two most likely candidates for the source - but eventually discovered they weren't looking at light from the collision.

"This discovery could soon answer questions" and a neutron star.

To distinguish the celestial objects involved in the collision, the researchers measured the rate at which the frequency of gravitational waves increased as the two objects orbited around each other. How Does Gravitational Wave Detectors Work?

It is hoped the data will eventually reveal whether the neutron star was torn apart before crossing the black hole's event horizon or whether it was seamlessly sucked into annihilation.

The possible April 26 neutron star-black hole collision (referred to as S190426c) is estimated to have taken place roughly 1.2 billion light-years away.



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