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The world’s largest gravitational-wave detectors may have just found the first evidence of a black hole devouring a neutron star.
When massive objects like neutron stars or black holes collide, they send gravitational waves rippling through the fabric of space-time. It’s these telltale wrinkles in space-time that physicists detected using the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) in the U.S. and the VIRGO detector in Italy, according to a statement.
Event - Light-years - Signal - Percent - Sure
Because this event occurred 1.2 billion light-years away, the signal they detected from it is very weak. "We can never be a hundred percent sure," said Alan Weinstein, a professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology and a member of the LIGO scientific collaboration. Indeed, there's still a 14% chance that the signal was an instrumental error, he said.
But if the researchers are correct, this first-ever neutron-star-black-hole collision could teach scientists something about how heavy elements made their way into our planet, our wedding rings, and our bodies, Weinstein told Live Science.
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Such neutron star collisions release huge amounts of heavy nuclear material, such as gold and platinum, along with electromagnetic waves, such as light waves and gravitational waves.
With front row seats, a collision of that magnitude would treat us to a "gigantic light show," Weinstein...
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