KUSA - Two small and dense stars called neutron stars from a galaxy 130 million light years away from Earth collided, forming an explosion called a kilonova.
This is similar to a supernova, which is when a single star implodes at the end of its lifespan.
NASA says this is what they detected on August 17 while the country was gearing up to observe another cosmic event -- a total solar eclipse.
Gravitational waves, which are actual physical ripples in space, were detected on earth by the LIGO observatory in the United States and by the VIRGO observatory in Italy while gamma ray bursts, which is radiation seen as part if the light spectrum, was detected by the Fermi space telescope.
It was the first time gravitational waves and electromagnetic radiation were traced back to the same source event.
Amazing to think this explosion actually occurred 130 million years ago -- before the time of dinosaurs -- but was only detected two months ago.
It's an exciting discovery that has energized the scientific community all over the world, including at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
“This is literally the start of a new type of astronomy, and it’s rare that you're actually able to pinpoint the start of a field to a single event,” said Dr. Ka Chun YU, curator of space science at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
NASA says this new science is called multi-messenger astrophysics. It’s another piece of man’s greatest puzzle. How did we get here? And how did the Earth get here?
Spewing out from this kilonova are the elements that are the building blocks of our solar system.
Heavy metals like gold, lead and platinum that are part of our environment and our lives originated in a similar extra terrestrial explosion.
“You know, the fact that the gold in your wedding band; that originated out in the explosive aftermath of a stars death," Yu said. "And so that’s a really cool thing to think about, that you have things on your person, and your body, that connects you to the cosmos. So I think that’s pretty cool."
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