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Title:Neutron Star Mergers: Progenitors of the Most Powerful Explosions in the Universe
Author(s):Rosofsky, Shawn
Abstract:Neutron stars are the smallest, densest stars known to exist. A neutron star is about 20 kilometers in diameter and is so dense that a teaspoon of neutron star material has a mass of about a billion tons. They are formed when massive stars explode in supernovas. It is believed that neutron star collisions may be the source of most of the gold in the universe and the progenitors of gamma ray bursts—the most powerful electromagnetic explosions in the Universe after the Big Bang. On August 17, 2017 the LIGO and Virgo detectors detected the collision of two neutron stars (GW170817). As these neutron stars spiraled together, they emitted gravitational waves that were detectable for about 100 seconds by the LIGO and Virgo detectors. When they collided, a flash of gamma rays was emitted and observed on Earth about two seconds after the gravitational waves. In the days and weeks that followed, other forms of light—including X-ray, ultraviolet, optical, infrared, and radio waves—were detected. Using the open source, numerical relativity software, the Einstein Toolkit, I numerically modeled the collision of two neutron stars that represent GW170817. This image depicts a still frame of that simulation.
Issue Date:2018-04
Rights Information:Copyright 2018 Shawn Rosofsky
Date Available in IDEALS:2018-04-23

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