This animation begins with the final moments of two neutron stars (the super-dense cores of exploded massive stars), whirling around each other in a galaxy 130 million light-years away. Gravitational waves (rippling disturbance in space-time, shown here as pale arcs) bleed away orbital energy, causing the stars to move closer together and merge. As the stars collide, this explosive event emits light across a series of different wavelengths - first gamma rays (magenta), then ultraviolet (violet), then visible and infrared (blue-white to red) and once the jet directed toward us expanded into our view from Earth, X-rays (blue). Our Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope witnessed this event on August 17, 2017 and we watched it unfold over multiple days with a variety of other telescopes, including the Swift spacecraft, the Hubble Space Telescope (@NASAHubble), the Spitzer Space Telescope, our Chandra X-Ray Observatory (@NASAChandraXray) and our NuSTAR mission. The detectors at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) received a gravitational wave signal just 1.7 seconds before the first light was seen by Fermi, making this the first event observed in both light and gravitational waves. Credit: @NASAGoddard/CI Lab
Round and round they go - then BOOM!
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