Good morning, fellow space fans!
Well, folks, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) has done it again! After the leaders have been awarded the Physics Nobel Prize two weeks ago for detecting gravitational waves from four black hole mergers
...but such events should be completely dark.
This morning it has been released that this is the first time that light associated with a source of gravitational waves has been detected!
Isn't that cool?!
"We have been working for years to predict what the light from a neutron merger would look like," said Daniel Kasen, an associate professor of physics and of astronomy at UC Berkeley and a scientist at Berkeley Lab. "Now that theoretical speculation has suddenly come to life."
That's right! Here's an excerpt from Eurekalert.org:
"The neutron star merger, dubbed GW170817, was detected on August 17 and immediately telegraphed to observers around the world, who turned their small and large telescopes on the region of the sky from which it came. The ripples in spacetime that LIGO/Virgo measured suggested a neutron star merger, since each star of the binary weighed between 1 and 2 times the mass of our sun. Apart from black holes, neutron stars are the densest objects known in the universe. They are created when a massive star exhausts its fuel and collapses onto itself, compressing a mass comparable to that of the sun into a sphere only 10 miles across.
Only 1.7 seconds after the gravitational waves were recorded, the Fermi space telescope detected a short burst of gamma rays from the same region, evidence that concentrated jets of energy are produced during the merger of neutron stars. Less than 11 hours later, observers caught their first glimpse of visible light from the source. It was localized to a known galaxy, NGC 4993, situated about 130 million light years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Hydra."
More here: https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2017-10/uoc--asc101517.php
To see it so bright and so nearby gives the LIGO team so many possibilities!
Thanks for reading and we'll be back on schedule with next Monday on Black Widow Pulsars!