By the Royal Astronomical Society
For the first time astronomers have detected gravitational waves from a merged, hyper-massive neutron star. The scientists, Maurice van Putten of Sejong University in South Korea, and Massimo della Valle of the Osservatorio Astronomico de Capodimonte in Italy, publish their results in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters.
Gravitational waves were predicted by Albert Einstein in his General Theory of Relativity in 1915. The waves are disturbances in space time generated by rapidly moving masses, which propagate out from the source. By the time the waves reach the Earth, they are incredibly weak and their detection requires extremely sensitive equipment. It took scientists until 2016 to announce the first observation of gravitational waves using the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) detector.
Since that seminal result, gravitational waves have been detected on a further six occasions. One of these, GW170817, resulted from the merger of two stellar remnants known as neutron stars. These objects form after stars much more massive than the Sun explode as supernovae, leaving behind a core of material packed to extraordinary densities.
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