Researchers have detected a neutron star and a black hole colliding for the first time ever.
They didn’t collide just once, but twice over a 10 day period.
Scientists had predicted that the collision would eventually take place, but had no idea how many times it would happen.
Typically black holes only collide with other black holes, while neutron stars only collide with neutron stars, so scientists are having to go back to the drawing board and ‘rewrite [their] theories.’
Despite this, Professor Vivien Raymond, from Cardiff University, described the findings as ‘fantastic’.
We have learned a bit of a lesson again. When we assume something we tend to be proved wrong after a while. So we have to keep our minds open and see what the Universe is telling us.
The first collision took place on January 5, 2020, while the second occurred 10 days later. They were detected via ripples that the collisions caused, also known as gravitational waves, BBC News reports. The first crash involved a black hole six-and-a-half times the mass of our Sun, and a neutron star that was 1.5 times more massive than our parent star.
The second collision occurred between a black hole of 10 solar masses and a neutron star of two solar masses.
To put into perspective just how massive ‘massive’ is, a teaspoonful of material from a neutron star is estimated to weigh around four billion tonnes. Now imagine trying to put that in your morning cup of coffee.
As to why the collisions are such a big deal, it’s down to the fact it could demonstrate that black holes and neutron stars can be found close to one another.
If this is the case, it could also imply that stars and galaxies are formed in different ways than initially thought. When stars explode, the materials inside them are pushed out at force – something which is linked to the proportion of black holes and neutron stars.
In the wake of the new findings, it’s now thought that stars could push out fewer heavy elements, such as iron, carbon and oxygen, than first believed, and with less force.
As a result, this has ‘implications for real-world observations of the Universe,’ BBC News writes.
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