For the first time ever, researchers have recorded the cataclysmic smash-up of two neutron stars by virtue of their gravitational waves as well as their electromagnetic emissions, producing data that could unlock cosmic secrets galore.
The findings from the Aug. 17 event, detailed today in more than a dozen research papers, represent the best example of “multi-messenger astronomy.”
More than 70 observatories and thousands of scientists contributed to the findings, headed by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO.
“We did it again — but this time, we all did it,” David Reitze, executive director of the LIGO Laboratory, said at today’s news briefing announcing the results.
By combining the gravitational-wave readings with observations in wavelengths ranging from radio signals to gamma rays, scientists are gaining new insights into how neutron stars evolve, and how gold and other heavy elements are forged in their furnaces.