Illustration of Two Neutron Stars Just Before They Collide

Stars Colliding

This illustration shows the hot, dense, expanding cloud of debris stripped from two neutron stars just before they collided. Within this neutron-rich debris, large quantities of some of the universe’s heaviest elements were forged, including hundreds of Earth masses of gold and platinum.

This represents the first time scientists detected light tied to a gravitational-wave event, thanks to two merging neutron stars in the galaxy NGC 4993, located about 130 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Hydra. Learn more about this phenomenon.

Image Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab

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