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Astronomers observe source of gravitational wavesThe European Southern Observatory detected a deep-space signal in August that turned out the be the first observable light from two neutron stars colliding, producing a kilonova that caused strong gravitational waves to pass through Earth.
Astrophysicists and astronomers from the European Southern Observatory in Chili have detected the first visible signs of an object that is believed to be causing gravitational waves. Back in August scientists observed an event known as a kilonova which has long been theorized to occur when two neutron stars merge into one producing a massive explosion that is believed to produce heavy metals. Like gold and platinum. [MUSIC] Three massive gravitational wave detectors located in Washington state, Louisiana and Italy detected gravitational waves passing through the Earth. Gravitational waves are distortions in space time as illustrated here in this video which makes them look like waves in the ocean. At the same time, the NASA FERMI satellite detected gamma rays coming from the same direction in the sky. These observations baffled astronomers who have never seen deep space signals like these before. But the data they were receiving was consistent with the theory of what might happen if two neutrons stars merge. The killer nova was only observable for a short time. But astronomers from all over the world began sharing information and utilizing other space telescopes like NASA's Swift Gamma-Ray satellite and the Hubble space telescope to view the event from space. Scientists believe that events like this are responsible for creating the gold you might be wearing around your neck or the platinum ring on your finger. And they plan to use this new data for future experiments that will teach us more about Einstein's theory of relativity and figure out definitively exactly how heavy metals are made in our universe. Learn more about this historic discovery by reading Eric Mack's article at CNET.com. [MUSIC]