Ben Farr’s Work with LIGO Featured in Discover
For just the second time, scientists have used gravitational waves (ripples in space-time) to detect the merger of two colliding neutron stars. The neutron stars — each fitting roughly the mass of the Sun into a city-sized space — have a combined mass greater than any other pair of neutron stars ever observed.
“From conventional observations with light, we already knew of 17 binary neutron star systems in our own galaxy and we have estimated the masses of these stars,” said Ben Farr, a LIGO team member from the University of Oregon, in a press release. “What’s surprising is that the combined mass of this binary is much higher than what was expected.”
After the collision of these two particularly hefty neutron stars, researchers say the final merged product was likely massive enough to collapse into a black hole, gobbling up any stray matter and light located nearby.
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