Boom! Another Neutron-Star Crash Spotted

This bright burst of X-rays, observed by NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, was likely generated by the collision of two neutron stars 6.6 billion light-years from Earth, a new study reports. (Image: © X-ray: NASA/CXC/University of Science and Technology of China/Y. Xue et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI)
Astronomers detected the smashup using X-rays, not gravitational waves.

By Mike Wall |

Astronomers have apparently spotted another epic neutron-star crash — and they didn’t need gravitational waves to do it.

NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory detected a powerful burst of X-ray light coming from a galaxy 6.6 billion light-years from Earth, a new study reports. The emission, researchers said, was likely generated by the merger of two neutron stars, exotic stellar corpses so dense that their constituent matter is squished into neutrons.

If this interpretation is correct, it breaks new ground in the hunt for neutron-star collisions, study team members said. Though there’s one other strong contender, only one such event has been confirmed to date: a 2017 discovery that relied heavily on the detection of ripples in space-time known as gravitational waves. (A number of different telescopes observed light from that crash as well, opening the era of „multimessenger astronomy.“)

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