By KATIE ZILCOSKY SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC NEWS) — Physicists from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) announced Monday that they had made a new advancement in studying gravitational waves. They detected gravitational waves from the collision of neutron stars, the smallest and densest stars in the universe.
This collision was followed by a burst of gamma rays which emitted a powerful light source and waves that could be detected by LIGO physicists across the globe. The physicists were able to locate the collision and observe the radioactive fireworks that followed.
The discovery also brought new understanding to the origin of the heaviest elements in the periodic table, such as gold and platinum. Before this event, it was believed they were originated in a supernova, but scientists now believe they come from colliding neutron stars like the one observed.
LIGO physicist and Syracuse University professor Duncan Brown said its a a detection that reveals more about the earth’s creation and our own.
“What we’re learning right now is where we came from, where our planet came from. Hopefully it will tell us about where are we going. We can use the discovery to learn more about the nature of matter. The more we learn about science, the more we can apply those technologies to our everyday lives.”
The leaders of the Syracuse LIGO team was one of the first alerted of the neutron star collision. They also were the ones to solve a glitch in the data from one of the LIGO detectors. The information that was saved from this recovery was used to program the telescope to the point in space where the collision occurred.
This discovery comes a year after the detection of gravitational waves from the collision of two black holes. Unlike this finding, it was not watch nor could it be located.
The research that lead to finding those gravitational waves won this year’s Nobel Prize.