In 2017, two small, but incredibly dense, neutron stars collided to produce a ‘kilonova’ explosion that caused the detection of these gravitational waves. Image credit: ESO/L. Calçada/M. Kornmesser
Massive collisions in the Universe between black holes or dead stars appear to happen very frequently as, following the latest switching on of the three upgraded detectors, scientists have detected gravitational waves emanating from the collision of two neutron stars, and another that could be the first evidence of neutron star-black hole collision.
“These two new triggers are further evidence that our Universe regularly rings with the aftershocks of colossal astronomical events,” says Professor Sheila Rowan, Director of the University of Glasgow’s Institute for Gravitational Research. “We’d been deaf to those sounds before the detectors equipped us with the opportunity to hear them, and each event gives invaluable new data points to expand our understanding of our cosmos.”
United Kingdom scientists and engineers play key roles in the construction and operation of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO), which runs two detectors in the United States. A third detector named Virgo is operated by a European collaboration and is based in Italy.
On 25 April 2019 LIGO and Virgo detected gravitational ...