BEACON TRANSCRIPT – According to a recent research paper published in the December 20, 2017, edition of the journal Nature, scientists believe that they have observed the first known case of two neutron stars merging.
The Results of the Neutron Star Crash
A neutron star is the leftover of a large star that goes supernova. Though very small, as they are usually about twelve miles across, such stars are the densest known objects in the Universe other than black holes. As a reference, a teaspoon of this cosmic material would weigh approximately 1 billion tons.Back in August, scientists observed a neutron star crash thanks to the gravitational waves it released. These are described as being ripples in the fabric of space and time themselves.
Researchers also observed this event with a conventional telescope. As such, this marks the first time that specialists use both methods for a single event.
They also detected a cocoon of material radiating from the collision. By reading the wavelengths of their light, scientists determined that these were loaded with newly synthesized elements. The combination of near-infrared, visible, and ultraviolet light implied the radioactive decay of elements like uranium and gold.
Hydrogen and helium, which are considered to be the lightest elements in the Universe, are believed to have mostly originated during the Big Bang. Meanwhile, those up after iron (whose atomic number is 26) on the periodic table come from the cores of stars.
For seventy years it has been theorized that the heavier elements in the Universe are forged in such cosmic events as neutron star crashes. Now, these latest findings seem to confirm the theories.
The event also triggered radio waves, X-rays, and gamma-rays that researchers cannot quite explain yet. As it is, they provided a new mystery to explore.