On 14 August Australian and worldwide researchers from the LIGO (US) and Virgo (Italy) gravitational wave observatories detected the tickles in the cosmos triggered by this event, which was immediately reported on a public database available to the world's astronomers.
A neutron star is the collapsed core of a giant star, essentially made from the protons and electrons melting into each other to form neutrons.
Scientists now consider that objects in these systems that are up to three times the mass of our sun to be neutron stars, and objects that are at least five times the mass of our sun to be black holes.
Scientists have spotted the most exotic gravitational waves on record yet, after a black hole probably lunched on a neutron star.
Over the past week, physicists have been buzzing over an August 14 detection made by the twin LIGO detectors in Hanford, Wash., and Livingston, La., as well as by the European Virgo gravitational-wave detector in Italy. We've never seen a neutron star larger than 2.2 solar masses, nor a black hole smaller than five solar masses, so scientists are 99% certain this event was caused by a neutron star being swallowed up by a black hole. If what they found is confirmed to be the remains of a dead star, then the cosmic collision would actually be the first example of a black hole colliding with a neutron star.
UWA OzGrav Postdoctoral Research Associate Dr Joris van Heijningen said as with the first Binary Neutron Star merger and subsequent kilonova detection in which Australian telescopes contributed significantly, all three gravitational wave detectors - LIGO Hanford and Livingston in the United States and Virgo in Europe - were online.
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Artist's rendering of the black hole consuming the neutron star.
The types of waves that LIGO and Virgo detect are given off only by violent cosmic events such as supernova explosions and cataclysmic collisions. Black holes are also collapsed stars with gravity so strong that even light can not escape their grasp. For example, the collision could have been two merging black holes - still an exciting discovery of a black hole lighter than any seen before.
The detection by the scientists was unambiguous.
Black holes are one of the most extreme entities in the universe.
So, while the smaller object in this most recently detected binary is less than three solar masses, it might not be a neutron star. "What is the maximum mass of a neutron star, and what is the minimum mass of a black hole?" A bright light will emerge in the sky if the neutron star breaks apart.
The detection teams are also working on a way to detect the result of two neutron stars that briefly create a bigger neutron star when they collide.
The next step is focusing the telescopes on the area where the event happened.