WASHINGTON (AP) — A violent collision of two super-dense neutron stars in a distant galaxy has helped astronomers uncover cosmic secrets, including where gold comes from.
Scientists revealed Monday that detectors in space and on earth picked up the crash’s faint signals in mid-August. Telescopes on every continent were able to see and measure light and energy emerging from the crash.
The collision generated a fierce burst of gamma rays and a gravitational wave, a faint ripple in the fabric of space and time, first theorized by Albert Einstein.
The colliding stars spewed bright blue, super-hot debris that was dense and unstable. Some of it coalesced into heavy elements, like gold, platinum and uranium. Scientists had suspected these collisions had enough power to create heavier elements, but weren’t certain until they witnessed it.