Heavens

For the first time, astronomers have observed a celestial event through both conventional telescopes and gravitational waves. The collision of two super-dense neutron stars just 120 million light-years from Earth was captured by both gravity wave observatories (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Observatory, LIGO in the U.S., and Virgo in Italy) and telescopes including the DLT40 survey based in Chile. The results are published Oct. 16 in a collection of papers in The Astrophysical Journal, Physical Review Letters, Nature and other journals.

The next time you come across a knotted jumble of rope or wire or yarn, ponder this: The natural tendency for things to tangle may help explain the three-dimensional nature of the universe and how it formed.

On October 16 a team of scientists, including members from the LIGO and Virgo collaborations and several astronomical groups, announced the detection of both gravitational and electromagnetic waves, originating from the merger of two neutron stars. These mergers have been speculated as the yet unknown production site of heavy elements including Gold, Platinum and Uranium in the Universe.

On August 17, 2017, scientists at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors in Louisiana and Washington and at the Virgo detector in Italy detected the first "ripples in space," or gravitational waves, produced by the merger of two ancient remnants of stars known as neutron stars.

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope has observed for the first time the source of a gravitational wave, created by the merger of two neutron stars. This merger created a kilonova -- an object predicted by theory decades ago -- that ejects heavy elements such as gold and platinum into space. This event also provides the strongest evidence yet that short duration gamma-ray bursts are caused by mergers of neutron stars. This discovery is the first glimpse of multi-messenger astronomy, bringing together both gravitational waves and electromagnetic radiation.

For the first time ever, astronomers have observed both gravitational waves and light (electromagnetic radiation) from the same event, thanks to a global collaborative effort and the quick reactions of both ESO's facilities and others around the world.

Like most solar sounding rockets, the second flight of the FOXSI instrument - short for Focusing Optics X-ray Solar Imager - lasted 15 minutes, with just six minutes of data collection. But in that short time, the cutting-edge instrument found the best evidence to date of a phenomenon scientists have been seeking for years: signatures of tiny solar flares that could help explain the mysterious extreme heating of the Sun's outer atmosphere.

When the total solar eclipse swept across the United States on Aug. 21, 2017, NASA satellites captured a diverse set of images from space. But days before the eclipse, some NASA satellites also enabled scientists to predict what the corona -- the Sun's outer atmosphere -- would look like during the eclipse, from the ground. In addition to offering a case study to test our predictive abilities, the predictions also enabled some eclipse scientists to choose their study targets in advance.

At any given moment, as many as 10 million wild snakes of solar material leap from the sun's surface. These are spicules, and despite their abundance, scientists didn't understand how these jets of plasma form nor did they influence the heating of the outer layers of the sun's atmosphere or the solar wind. Now, for the first time, in a study partly funded by NASA, scientists have modeled spicule formation.

The quest to discover how planets found in the far reaches of the universe are born has taken a new, crucial twist.

A new study by an international team of scientists, led by Stefan Kraus from the University of Exeter, has given a fascinating new insight into one of the most respected theories of how planets are formed.

Young stars start out with a massive disk of gas and dust that over time, astronomers think, either diffuses away or coalesces into planets and asteroids.