New Supernova Discovery Explains Landmark Neutron Star Collision

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August 17, 2017 heralded one of the most important observations in astronomy’s history: two neutron stars colliding, sending both light and gravitational waves toward the Earth. But it left one question wide open: how two of these stellar corpses could have ended up orbiting each other in the first place.

Scientists have now reported spotting a new kind of “ultra-stripped” supernova—one that ejects only a fraction of the expected amount of matter—that could explain the mystery.

“We finally have evidence of the explosion that actually creates double neutron star systems,” CalTech graduate student Kishalay De told Gizmodo.

This wasn’t a pure-luck discovery like some other supernovae are, said Mansi Kasliwal, professor at CalTech. The explosion, now called iPTF 14gqr, first


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