Ever heard the saying “when stars collide?” What was once just a scientific theory is now a reality. In a huge cosmic announcement, two neutron stars 120 million light years away have collided. Neutron stars are the collapsed centre of large stars that explode as a supernova.
The unheard of collision was detected by thousands of global researchers, including several Australians who helped develop the detecting devices and identify the radio and optical signals from the collision. Associate Professor David Coward from the University of Western Australia said the discovery had uncovered a new kind of astronomy and would open up new scientific channels entirely. “Everything about this discovery is new. The fact that gravitational waves, gamma rays, light and radio signals are all coming from the same source is extraordinary,” he says.
Dr Eric Howell of UWA emphasised the revolutionary discovery. “For the first time, scientists have worked together with different technologies to study this phenomenon and combined their data to create a timeline of this amazing story,” he said. “By combing all this data, scientists will be able to test the fundamental laws of physics under the most extreme conditions.”
The news develops Albert Einstein’s prediction 100 years ago that gravitational waves are created when black holes collide.