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Neutron stars collided and made a near-perfect sphere that has scientists baffled

Published Feb 20th, 2023 6:21PM EST
scientists may have discovered a new class of stellar object in a neutron star
Image: Artsiom P / Adobe

It’s not often that humans are lucky enough to spot two neutron stars colliding, with the first ever collision observed only a few years ago in 2017. Now scientists have taken a closer look at that neutron star collision and discovered that it created a near-perfect spherical explosion, which has left many of them shocked and scratching their heads.

“No one expected the explosion to look like this,” astrophysicist Darach Watson shared in a statement. Watson says that the near-perfect sphere that the neutron star collision created in its explosive aftermath makes no sense. However, the calculations that the researchers have run shows that it indeed is almost completely symmetrical.

That explosion that was observed in 2017, which is known as GW170817, is by far the most detailed look that we’ve gotten at an exploding neutron star collision. As such, there is a lot of data for scientists to sift through as they try to understand more about these stellar explosions. And, based on the discoveries recently recorded in the new study, there’s a lot we don’t know about these mergers.

The researchers shared their findings in a new paper published in Nature. In it, they detail how they looked at the data gathered during the neutron star collision and its resulting kilonova, as well as how they discovered the almost perfect sphere that it created when the two collided and sent out an explosive wave of energy through our cosmos.

The results, they say, show that a magnetic bomb of sorts may have been created when the energy from the neutron star collision was released, which occurs when the star collapses into a black hole. It’s also possible that the release of that energy led to the spherical distribution of the matter from the explosion.

Ultimately, if we want to learn more, we’ll need to observe future neutron star mergers. For now, scientists say it’s possible that there could be more than one mechanic at play causing the spherical design seen in GW170817.

Josh Hawkins has been writing for over a decade, covering science, gaming, and tech culture. He also is a top-rated product reviewer with experience in extensively researched product comparisons, headphones, and gaming devices. Whenever he isn’t busy writing about tech or gadgets, he can usually be found enjoying a new world in a video game, or tinkering with something on his computer.