Witnessing the collision of two neutron stars is a 'textbook changer.' Here's why

Miles O’brien:

Well, luck favors the prepared scientist, I guess, in this case.

It began with the LIGO instrument. This team just recently won the Nobel Prize for a discovery in 2015 of these gravitational waves, wrinkles in spacetime, that proved out Einstein’s theory of relativity. It did that by detecting the collision of black holes.

Now, in our business of television, we prefer our science illustrated. So, when they discovered that there might possibly be a collision of neutron stars, that includes an explosion and some light, and that made people feel a little more excited.

In August, the LIGO instrument detected one of these gravitational waves, but it was ever so slightly different. It happened a little longer, because these neutron stars move a little slower than black holes.

Another instrument, subsequently, the Fermi, which is an orbiting instrument, detected a gamma ray burst. Scientists thought they were hot on the trail of one of these elusive neutron star collisions, and so they started scrambling.

Edo Berger is part of the team. He’s at Harvard University.

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