Five reasons why astronomers are thrilled about the big announcement that the gravitational wave experiment Called LIGO has detected the collision of two neutron stars in a distant galaxy:
1. This marks the first time LIGO has felt a vibration in distance from something other than two black holes merging. Now scientists may use the sensitive LIGO detectors to research and examine their ideas about a totally new category of phenomena.
2. It is the first time a gravitational signal was associated with a source that telescopes can see from the skies. Without LIGO, astronomers would probably not have discovered this event, called a “kilonova.” By combining both types of observations, it is possible to find a more complete picture of a rare but critical process within our world.
3. The light in the event has effectively confirmed the concept that the majority of the gold, platinum and a number of other heavy metals which are found on Earth and elsewhere in the world were produced from the fiery aftermath of a neutron star crash.
4. The event also generated a high energy flash referred to as a short gamma ray burst which was detected by orbiting satellites. This demonstrates that these bursts, which are known to happen for decades, are the result of neutron stars colliding.
5. X-ray emission from the kilonova didn’t appear until several days after the gravitational wave detection. Although more work has to be done to be sure, astronomers already imply that this is powerful evidence that the two merging neutron stars created a black hole and the X-rays come out of a jet of high velocity material that’s powered by the black hole.