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Big day in astrophysics today as NASA announced
the first-ever detection of gravitational waves emitted from colliding neutron stars, and, importantly, the first detection of light from a gravitational-wave-generating event; that's a big deal because the relationship between gravity and electromagnetism remains I guess the most fundamental knot in our theories of physics, so being able to measure both from a single, cataclysmic event (a collision between ultra-dense massive bodies like this is called a kilonova
, because it can release up to 1000 times as much energy as a stellar nova) could potentially lead to a much better understanding of how our universe works.
It's already confirmed several theories: that such events generate short gamma rays bursts--which have been spotted in mysterious, distant flares in the sky from time to time--and that kilonovae can produce heavy elements such as gold and platinum that cannot be created through standard stellar fusion, which is only able to produce elements up to the weight of iron.
And for extra fun, the BBC article
on the report has the waveform of the subatomic ripples of spacetime--the gravitational waves, that is--converted to the scale of audible sound waves, and wouldn't you know it, they make a perfect science fiction sound. : D