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Astronomers Strike Gravitational Gold In Colliding Neutron Stars

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posted on Oct, 16 2017 @ 01:33 PM
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The announcement as promised for today, October 16th, 2017 was nothing Earth shattering, but definitely interesting and a first for our observations of the cosmos.


For the first time, scientists have caught two neutron stars in the act of colliding, revealing that these strange smashups are the source of heavy elements such as gold and platinum.

The discovery, announced Monday at a news conference and in scientific reports written by some 3,500 researchers, solves a long-standing mystery about the origin of these heavy elements — which are found in everything from wedding rings to cellphones to nuclear weapons.

It's also a dramatic demonstration of how astrophysics is being transformed by humanity's newfound ability to detect gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of space-time that are created when massive objects spin around each other and finally collide.

"It's so beautiful. It's so beautiful it makes me want to cry. It's the fulfillment of dozens, hundreds, thousands of people's efforts, but it's also the fulfillment of an idea suddenly becoming real," says Peter Saulson of Syracuse University, who has spent more than three decades working on the detection of gravitational waves.

Albert Einstein predicted the existence of these ripples more than a century ago, but scientists didn't manage to detect them until 2015. Until now, they'd made only four such detections, and each time the distortions in space-time were caused by the collision of two black holes.




Depiction of collision by two neutron stars:




This explosive impact created ripples in space-time that traveled all the way to Earth, arriving at 8:41 a.m. ET on Aug. 17 and setting off detectors in the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory — whose founders won the Nobel Prize in physics earlier this month.




Another feat under humanity's belt, observing two neutron stars colliding. Brilliant.




Source:
www.npr.org...


edit on 16-10-2017 by CreationBro because: (no reason given)




posted on Oct, 16 2017 @ 01:37 PM
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So cool! I really can't wait to see what awesome discoveries this approach will bring.



posted on Oct, 16 2017 @ 01:59 PM
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“Our background analysis showed an event of this strength happens less than once in 80,000 years by random coincidence, so we recognized this right away as a very confident detection and a remarkably nearby source,” adds Laura Cadonati, professor of physics at Georgia Tech and deputy spokesperson for the LIGO Scientific Collaboration. “This detection has genuinely opened the doors to a new way of doing astrophysics. I expect it will be remembered as one of the most studied astrophysical events in history.”

MIT News (.edu) - LIGO and Virgo make first detection of gravitational waves produced by colliding neutron stars.

"Nothing earth shattering"??!

Let's see. First time detection of two neutron stars merging, confirmation of GR where gravity waves move at the speed of light, first time detected by gravity waves and the whole EM spectrum of instruments, confirmation of heavy element production beyond iron (the size of element that can be done by fusion) and truly a world-wide scientific effort...

Even when the cat was let out of the bag by a clumsy tweet and they tried to play it down by saying it was "black holes" merging, everybody was still wondering, "if only..."

Well, after doing the actual science, they announce that, "Yes, we've detected two neutron stars merging with every available instrument we have."

I would say, "earth shattering"!!

And d@mn cool!

It is not over either. They are going to continue to monitor the area to see what they detect to see if theory matches observation.




posted on Oct, 16 2017 @ 02:33 PM
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a reply to: TEOTWAWKIAIFF

What I gather from your post is they detected the passage of gravity waves, do they know exactly where the two small stars that collided were... Is there any imaging of the collision, or just the LIGO detection of gravity waves?


How big are Neutron Stars?

Despite their small diameters—about 12.5 miles (20 kilometers)—neutron stars boast nearly 1.5 times the mass of our sun, and are thus incredibly dense



Do neutron stars give off light?

Because neutron stars are so small, their total thermal emission is negligible. However, neutron stars do produce light via synchrotron emission. This light does not shine in all directions, but only out the north and south magnetic poles of the star.

Neutron Stars



posted on Oct, 16 2017 @ 02:52 PM
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a reply to: intrptr


Fermi was able to provide a localization that was later confirmed and greatly refined with the coordinates provided by the combined LIGO-Virgo detection. With these coordinates, a handful of observatories around the world were able, hours later, to start searching the region of the sky where the signal was thought to originate. A new point of light, resembling a new star, was first found by optical telescopes. Ultimately, about 70 observatories on the ground and in space observed the event at their representative wavelengths.

(same source, MIT)

Yup, they saw the collision with gravity waves and then a short gamma ray burst. It was in the Southern sky. Down in Chile, they took a look since it appeared in the southern sky. They located the afterglow first, then Hubble took a look. They found a tiny point of light where none had been.

There is a large still, then a b/w side-by-side, and later there is color side-by-side all here at phys.org - Neutron star smashup seen for first time, 'transforms' understanding of Universe.

The timeline is a little wonky. You'll find that at my Ligo/Virgo black hole thread. The last post explains what happened.

This is kind of major news!

No less than 7 stories on Phys.org!

(same as already linked above)
Astronomers strike cosmic gold, confirm origin of precious metals in neutron star mergers
Gravitational waves: Why the fuss?.
What are neutron stars?
Astronomers first to see source of gravitational waves in visible light
Neutron star crash: 'The gift that will keep on giving'
Gold origin confirmed with first ever gravitational wave sighting

I haven't even made it to space.com yet!



posted on Oct, 16 2017 @ 03:06 PM
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a reply to: TEOTWAWKIAIFF

Considering the merge was so intense as to generate such powerful gravity waves as to be detectable so far from the source, I am somewhat surprised the 'afterglow' is so... small.

side by side image

This raises another question, if these 'gravity waves' are detectable from two small objects, how come we don't capture other gravity waves from say, black holes feeding on stars, for instance. Seems that would 'galactic speaking' be a somewhat common event.



posted on Oct, 16 2017 @ 03:27 PM
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a reply to: TEOTWAWKIAIFF

To some scientists, yes I agree. As an amateur astronomer and having studied astrophysics at University, i do find this announcement rather neat.

To the average person though, I think the announcement would have been something more like:

NASA Spots Capital Ship of Unknown Origin In Low Jovian Orbit




posted on Oct, 16 2017 @ 03:32 PM
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a reply to: intrptr

I believe that is where LIGO and Virgo are headed! They need a third detector to help them triangulate where in the sky the GW came from.

And they all need to have the same capabilities. Kind like when moving a couch, you can tell whose not doing their part!

This is so lucky an observation in many ways. Virgo was coming to the end of its upgraded commissioned run (a couple of days before it shutdown). LIGO spotted it first. The Virgo confirmed. Then they got excited! They made sure it was not an instrument error which is when the gamma ray burst was detected. That allowed them to narrow down where it was. Chile was going dark so they took a look in that patch of sky and found something in the area. All of this in something like 10-14 hours! Nobody slept! Then they got time on Hubble which swung around and looked. By this time a bunch of ground based telescopes of all types were looking! Those observatories have yet to publish their results! Expect more from this event

They have the same questions about the after glow. And why the gamma ray burst was not bigger (they think it may have been pointed away from us).

This may be the big announcement but the churning of data will be going on for a while! So will the observations.

Maybe one day the whole swath of sky will be monitored in all our clever methods! For now, this is what we can accomplish when working collectively together.

Leave it to universe to give us answers and leave us with more questions!



posted on Oct, 16 2017 @ 03:36 PM
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People were making assumptions about this discovery and thinking it was ETI related.

But I often imagine that, if... There's life elsewhere, and they're billions of years more advanced than us, every new discovery, like this one, bring us closer to know if there is or there isn't anyone out there.

We are just aiming straight to the gold pot... Pfft, humans, we just got here 2 seconds ago!

And a very important discovery for our further understanding of how life was developed in the first place.

Cheers to science and the XXI century!
edit on 16/10/2017 by vinifalou because: righttt the discovery

edit on 16/10/2017 by vinifalou because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 16 2017 @ 05:09 PM
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a reply to: TEOTWAWKIAIFF

So now I'm even more confused. I remember the threads here about LIGO detecting gravity waves. It was thought two black holes were colliding. Now they say it was two neutron stars. How do we know this since they were so small they were invisible to us before the event?



edit on 16-10-2017 by intrptr because: speling



posted on Oct, 16 2017 @ 05:27 PM
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originally posted by: intrptr
a reply to: TEOTWAWKIAIFF

So now I'm even more confused. I remember the threads here about LIGO detecting gravity waves. It was thought two black holes were colliding. Now they say it was two neutron stars. How do we know this since they were so small they were invisible to us before the event?



It detected two black holes colliding. Now it's detected two NS colliding.



posted on Oct, 16 2017 @ 05:27 PM
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a reply to: vinifalou


We weren't invited to the galactic viewing party, but what a party it must have been!

On another note, gravity waves move much slower than light. How long before the reach us? And, what should we expect?



posted on Oct, 16 2017 @ 05:32 PM
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a reply to: windword

Gravitational waves move at the speed of light.



posted on Oct, 16 2017 @ 05:37 PM
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a reply to: GetHyped


Hmmmm. I thought they were closer to "sound waves", in that respect.



posted on Oct, 16 2017 @ 05:38 PM
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originally posted by: GetHyped

originally posted by: intrptr
a reply to: TEOTWAWKIAIFF

So now I'm even more confused. I remember the threads here about LIGO detecting gravity waves. It was thought two black holes were colliding. Now they say it was two neutron stars. How do we know this since they were so small they were invisible to us before the event?



It detected two black holes colliding. Now it's detected two NS colliding.

Thanks for clarifying. How did they know they were neutron stars?


As these neutron stars spiraled together, they emitted gravitational waves that were detectable for about 100 seconds; when they collided, a flash of light in the form of gamma rays was emitted and seen on Earth about two seconds after the gravitational waves. In the days and weeks following the smashup, other forms of light, or electromagnetic radiation — including X-ray, ultraviolet, optical, infrared, and radio waves — were detected.



posted on Oct, 16 2017 @ 05:41 PM
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a reply to: intrptr

Last year, first gravitational wave was detected by black holes colliding. There are sister universities that are on standby to yield their telescope time incase they can "see" what was actually merging. The next two and the first one were all dark.

The fourth GW detection happened...

Then the telling got all mucked up when an enthusiastic tweet said, "neutron stars merged". The guy was not even associated with LIGO. He jumped the gun in mid-August. Rumors were flying around. In an attempt to quench those rumors, MIT announced, "merging black holes", at the end of September as the source of GW #4.

The size is not really an issue it is the density! Since neutron stars are so dense their merger is enough to cause ripples in space-time that are detected as gravity waves. Did you read the description of the merger? As they got closer and closer they began rotating around each other, hundreds of times a second! The combined torque and mass made the detecting possible.

While the "BH merger" announcement was going on, they were busy vetting the data and readying it for publication. That is where the actual science is taking place. The data is "scrubbed" or gone over within a certain amount of error (standard deviation known as "sigma").

We were left twisting in the wind while the work was done. The cover story was "black hole merger" while the actual cause for GW#4 was the exciting, new, never before seen, "neutron stars merging".

Gotta love the twitterverse!



posted on Oct, 16 2017 @ 05:45 PM
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originally posted by: windword
a reply to: GetHyped


Hmmmm. I thought they were closer to "sound waves", in that respect.

Sound waves move thru the medium of atmosphere or water by contacting the next molecule and pushing it into the next and so on. Its a transfer of energy thru a medium of particles.

Gravity waves move thru the 'ether' of 'space' (what we call vacuum). But the question arises, how can waves move thru a vacuum?

Seems waves must ride on or thru a medium, shouldn't they? Also gives rise to the notion space vacuum is a medium like air or water, comprised of particles like air or water.

Otherwise how can there be 'waves' ?



posted on Oct, 16 2017 @ 05:50 PM
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a reply to: intrptr


Many years ago, last century, I took an astronomy class and learned about sound waves, emanating from super novas, shaping solar systems and planets. I wrongly remembered "sound waves" as gravity waves.



posted on Oct, 16 2017 @ 05:53 PM
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a reply to: TEOTWAWKIAIFF


The size is not really an issue it is the density! Since neutron stars are so dense their merger is enough to cause ripples in space-time that are detected as gravity waves. Did you read the description of the merger? As they got closer and closer they began rotating around each other, hundreds of times a second! The combined torque and mass made the detecting possible.

Thank you for clarifying that. Yes I read about 'merger' in the other threads last year. And the detectors ...


A laser beam shines down each arm from the crux of the "L," and mirrors at the ends of these arms reflect the light back. Using laser beams, scientists have detected the physical distortions caused by passing gravitational waves. See how the LIGO observatory hunts gravitational waves in this Space.com infographic.Feb 11, 2016


source

In other words the time the laser takes to return is measured, the infinitesimal difference occurring is the measure of passing gravity waves. Since only gravity can bend light, those are powerful waves.



posted on Oct, 16 2017 @ 06:00 PM
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originally posted by: windword
a reply to: intrptr


Many years ago, last century, I took an astronomy class and learned about sound waves, emanating from super novas, shaping solar systems and planets. I wrongly remembered "sound waves" as gravity waves.

But -- BUT, thats the rub. Imagining a wave of energy passing thru a medium, for instance off Japan...

The wave is not the water, it is the energy moving thru the water. We see the wave in the water with our eyes, understand it.

The 'waves' of gravity must be moving the same way. We can't see the gravity only detect its effects as it passes. The effects are made visible to us but space time and the energy we call gravity are both invisible. Imo, these waves are passing thru a medium comprised of particles.



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