Neutron Star Collision Creates Gravity Waves




Earth (Casper, Wyoming) - As everyone was looking to the sky for the solar eclipse, scientists were looking to the stars for a lesser known astronomical main event. The sight 130 million years in the making, finally making a science theory into science fact.


“When this actually happened, the dinosaurs were still roaming the earth. Africa and South America were very very close together. Only hundreds of miles apart,” said Professor Tim Slater from the University of Wyoming.


In mid-August of 2017, the Earth was captivated by the solar eclipse. The first one of its kind in almost a century. But while those looked up with their eclipse viewing glasses, scientists were looking beyond our local star to a gravitational battle 130 million light years away.



“We found 49 galaxies on the correct portion of the sky. It turns out the gravitational wave event came from a galaxy that was number three on our list,” said Dr. David Cook. Cook was on the team of Astronomers that helped find the collision.


The battle, two neutron stars in a constant circling ballet on the course to collision over 11 billion years. Finally colliding causing an explosion of elements and debris flying into space.


“So when these two neutron stars, as they start to collide, they rip each other apart. That material that comes off is all being shoved together at incredibly high temperatures,” said Slater. “It forms really heavy elements. Platinum, silver even gold like the gold in your ring come from these explosions of these neutron stars.”


This collision, releasing gravitational waves traveling throughout the universe.


“Back in 1916, Einstein postulated his general relativity of gravity, which gravity is not necessarily a force that attracts different objects, but is actually a warping of space itself,” said Dr. Cook.


The waves finally making it to Earth being seen by the the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory or LIGO.


“When a gravitational wave passes through the Earth these two giant pieces of metal will get ever so closer together and farther apart as that wave passes by,” said Slater. “It’s a really hard thing to see which is why these instruments have to be so large.”


Einstein's theory proven facts 100 years later. As for what’s left of the collision…


“So now we've gotta spend a lot of time trying to figure out what exactly did happen. What’s left over. And that’s the kind of process that could take days, weeks, months, years, decades. Could be another hundred years before we know what’s going on. Or it could be tomorrow. That's what makes science so exciting,” said Slater.