An epic collision between two super-dense neutron stars has simultaneously solved multiple cosmic mysteries. Observations confirm that such explosive stellar encounters are a source of mysterious short γ-ray bursts. Also, that neutron-star collisions are where gold, platinum, uranium and many rare earth elements are formed. Researchers published several dozen papers in at least five journals today based on the event, which was detected on Earth on 17 August.
• Name of the neutron-star collision event: GW170817 • Distance from Earth: 40 million parsecs (130 million light years) • Amount of gold flung into space: about 10 times Earth's mass • Duration of the gravitational-wave signal: 100 seconds (the longest ever observed) • Research teams involved in observations: over 70 on all seven continents • Authors of the overview paper in The Astrophysical Journal Letters: 3,566
The neutron-star collision detected on 17 August kicked off the strongest and longest gravitational-wave signal ever seen on Earth, spotted first by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) in the United States and by its Italy-based counterpart Virgo. Discover how such an event triggers a worldwide network of smaller telescopes, often built on a shoestring budget, to spring into action to search for flares of light coming from the same spot.
Astrophysicist Shane Larson describes the life-changing experience of observing a neutron-star collision, why the part he's most excited about is measuring the expansion of the Universe, and the biggest thing we don't know about the discovery: what is the thing left over?
The epidemic of opioid-related deaths in the US has been allowed to run rampant because drug distributors are lobbying Congress on an epic scale, says an investigation by The Washington Post and 60 Minutes. Congress has passed laws reducing the Drug Enforcement Administration's power to freeze suspicious narcotic shipments that may end up on the black market.
Fifty years ago, Steven Weinberg published the iconic paper that gave rise to the standard model and inspired the CERN experimental programme. He tells of the pleasure of seeing one of your 'squiggles' come to describe reality, how science is like sexing a chicken, and why finding the standard-model Higgs boson (and nothing else) is a "nightmare scenario".
London | New York and Tokyo, and offices in cities worldwide including Basingstoke | Barcelona | Boston | Buenos Aires | Cairo | Delhi | Heidelberg | Shanghai | Madrid | Melbourne | Mexico City | Mumbai | Munich | Paris | San Francisco | Sao Paulo | Seoul and Washington DC. Macmillan Publishers Limited is a company incorporated in England & Wales under company number 785998 & whose registered office is located at The Campus, 4 Crinan Street, London, N1 9XW. Springer Nature | One New York Plaza, Suite 4500 | New York | NY 10004-1562 | USA