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Researchers at Oregon State University have confirmed that last fall's union of two neutron stars did in fact cause a short gamma-ray burst.
The findings, published today in Physical Review Letters, represent a key step forward in astrophysicists' understanding of the relationship between binary neutron star mergers, gravitational waves and short gamma-ray bursts.
GRBs - Bursts - Beams - Waves - Wavelengths
Commonly abbreviated as GRBs, gamma-ray bursts are narrow beams of electromagnetic waves of the shortest wavelengths in the electromagnetic spectrum. GRBs are the universe's most powerful electromagnetic events, occurring billions of light years from Earth and able to release as much energy in a few seconds as the sun will in its lifetime.
GRBs fall into two categories, long duration and short duration. Long GRBs are associated with the death of a massive star as its core becomes a black hole and can last from a couple of seconds to several minutes.
GRBs - Merger - Neutron - Stars - Results
Short GRBs had been suspected to originate from the merger of two neutron stars, which also results in a new black hole—a place where the pull of gravity from super-dense matter is so strong that not even light can escape. Up to 2 seconds is the time frame of a short GRB.
The term neutron star refers to the gravitationally collapsed core of a large star; neutron stars are the smallest, densest stars known. According to NASA, neutron stars' matter is packed so tightly that a sugar-cube-sized amount of it weighs in excess of a billion tons.
November - Scientists - US - Collaborations - Flash
In November 2017, scientists from U.S. and European collaborations announced they had detected an X-ray/gamma-ray flash that coincided with a blast of gravitational waves, followed by visible light from a new cosmic explosion called a kilonova.
Gravitational waves, a ripple in the fabric of time-space, were first detected in September 2015, a red-letter event in physics and astronomy that confirmed one of the main predictions...
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