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Picture of the Day

Radio observations confirm superfast jet of material from neutron star merger

Precise measurement using a continent-wide collection of National Science Foundation radio telescopes has revealed that a narrow jet of particles moving at nearly the speed of light broke out into interstellar space after a pair of neutron stars merged in a galaxy 130 million light-years from Earth. The merger, which occurred in August 2017, sent gravitational waves rippling through space. It was the first event ever to be detected both by gravitational waves and electromagnetic waves, including gamma rays, X-rays, visible light and radio waves. The aftermath of the merger, called GW170817, was observed by orbiting and ground-based telescopes around the world. Scientists watched as the characteristics of the received waves changed with time and used the changes as clues to reveal the nature of the phenomena that followed the merger.

Visit Website | Image credit: D. Berry, O. Gottlieb, K. Mooley, G. Hallinan, NRAO/AUI/NSF