A look into what happens when two neutron stars collide

neutron stars collide
While some astronomers were busy observing the total solar eclipse, two of NASA’s space-based observatories, Hubble and Chandra X-ray, along with two land-based telescopes, were able to capture a far more explosive scientific event. The astronomers trained their telescopes to zoom in on a patch of sky where they have been looking to find an astrophysical Rosetta stone. It is a cataclysmic event that is capable of producing electromagnetic signals on top of gravitational waves separately detected by the Advanced LIGO (Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory).

It was back in February 2016 when it was announced that the LIGO collaboration had detected gravitational waves from two colliding blackholes. The team later confirmed the detection of a second black hole merger, while it was still in its first observing run. A third merger has since been detected during the second observing run of Advanced LIGO, and it is this new event which could provide more crucial data.

While the two merging black holes did not produce anything more than a crescendo of gravitational waves, events that involve either two neutron stars or a neutron star and a black hole are thought to leave a glowing wreckage for telescopes to see. However, LIGO has yet to confirm if such an event has been detected. According to the team, “some promising gravitational-wave candidates have been identified in data from both LIGO and Virgo” while doing their preliminary analysis.

Why is such a detection important? According to Enrico Ramirez-Ruis of the University of California, Santa Cruz, if the detection turns out to be true, it would be “transformative for the field and probably one of the greatest discoveries in astronomy.”

In recent years, many scientists have been convinced that rare mergers of binary neutron stars provide a solution to multiple open problems in astronomy, including the brief flashes of gamma rays from the distant universe. It could also help physicists better understand how matter behaves at densities in comparison to the nucleus of an atom.


One Comment

  1. Anadish Kumar Pal September 15, 2017 at 6:08 am - Reply

    There might be some astronomical observation of gravitational waves produced by neutron stars; although, I think, this time it is quite improbable, looking at the sheer fortuitousness of the so-called detection makes it untenable — the VIRGO run was too short (just 25 days), LIGO never found any orbiting neutron stars’ gravitational waves in the last 3 years, while there are too many neutron stars nearby to have slipped LIGO’s notice. Let me add, 6 years earlier, minuscule gravitational waves of a wide frequency range (nearly zero to around 3 KHz) were first produced and detected in my lab late in 2010 and were reported in a US patent application which now is a US patent 8521029. You can find the patent detail on the USPTO site as well as on https://www.google.com/patents/US8521029 . You can check out gravitational waves and my work on Wikipedia. Let me also add, even if I am letting out a little secret, it is impossible to register any black hole mergers, because of the sheer volume of mergers — I cannot talk more on this subject. So, let me tell you, LIGO actually never detected any black hole mergers in the past too. The least I can say is that the reported mergers were a result of the intense imagination of the LIGO folks, to say the least. And now to slip in the final secret — Speed of gravity is infinite while LIGO shows it to be equal to the speed of light in its so-called observations. That is why all the gravitational wave observations by LIGO are false.

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