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Artist's impression of two neutron stars merging

Artist's impression of two neutron stars merging

Date: 16 October 2017
Satellite: Hubble Space Telescope
Copyright: ESO/L. Calçada/M. Kornmesser

This artist's impression shows two tiny but very dense neutron stars at the point at which they merge and explode as a kilonova. Such a very rare event is expected to produce both gravitational waves and a short gamma-ray burst, both of which were observed on 17 August 2017 by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and the Virgo Interferometer, and ESA's INTEGRAL telescope and NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope respectively. Subsequent detailed observations with telescopes all over the world, including the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, confirmed that this object, seen in the galaxy NGC 4993 about 130 million light-years from the Earth, is indeed a kilonova. Such objects are the main source of very heavy chemical elements, such as gold and platinum, in the Universe.

Last Update: 1 September 2019
18-Jul-2024 00:57 UT

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