Astronomers have detected the collision of a pair of dead stars, called a kilonova, that caused a cosmic ripple of gravitational waves around 130 million years ago. It turns out these kinds of massive explosions forged most of the gold, silver, and other heavy elements in our universe. From Nadia Drake's story in National Geographic:
First theorized by Albert Einstein in 1916, gravitational waves are kinks or distortions in the fabric of spacetime caused by extremely violent cosmic events. Until now, all confirmed detections involved a deadly dance between two black holes, which leave no visible signature on the sky.
But with this latest event, teams using about a hundred instruments at roughly 70 observatories were able to track down and watch the cataclysm in multiple wavelengths of light, allowing astronomers to scrutinize the source of these cosmic ripples for the first time.
“We saw a totally new phenomenon that has never before been seen by humans,” says Andy Howell of the University of California, Santa Barbara. “It’s an amazing thing that may not be duplicated in our lifetimes.”
Unlike colliding black holes, shredded neutron stars expel metallic, radioactive debris that can be seen by telescopes—if you know when and where to look.
“We felt the universe shaking from two neutron stars merging together, and that told us where to go and point our telescopes,” says Howell, whose team was among several that chased down the stars tied to the gravitational wave signal.
"In a First, Gravitational Waves Linked to Neutron Star Crash" (Nat Geo)
Repeating the word “fuck” actually can reduce your experience of pain, according to a new study by Keele University researchers. The psychologists ran an experiment in which subjects underwent a cold pressor test, a common method to pain threshold and tolerance by immersing your hand in freezing cold water for a minute. (See above video […]
Floating out of your body and looking down on it. The story of your life flashing by before your eyes. Seeing a bright light at the end of a dark tunnel. These are just two of the most common experiences that people report after a near-death experience (NDE). For some people, NDEs are a transformative […]
I enjoy the fun science stunts on ScienceBob’s YouTube Channel.
With the U.S. cautiously reopening, it’s probably time to take stock of where you’re at. After spending all these weeks in the house, you’ve likely already assembled a little list of items you either realized you were missing or need to replace. And those kinds of revelations probably apply to nearly every room. We got […]
When the COVID-19 threat hit in March, most Americans didn’t have much of a choice about their new work-from-home existence. But now that a majority of the workforce have settled into their new routines, it may be hard for many to snap back to the daily commute and the office grind again. And the numbers […]
After two months, all those stockpiled snacks and days spent indoors have likely taken their toll. If you happened to pick up a few pounds during quarantine, join the club. However, you may be thinking that it’s time — or maybe, well past time — to get back on that fitness horse. Rather than heading […]