Scientists witness huge cosmic crash, find origins of gold

USA TODAY – DOYLE RICE

Even in the normally mind-blowing science of astronomy, this discovery was special.

Two months ago, scientists for the first time detected both the ripples in space and time and the light produced and emitted during the same cosmic event: the spectacular collision of two neutron stars.

The discovery would soon reveal secrets of the cosmos, including how gold was created.

Neutron stars, formed when massive stars explode in supernovas, are the smallest, densest stars known to exist. A teaspoon of a neutron star has a mass of about a billion tons.

The collision of neutron stars is known as a kilonova — an explosion similar to a supernova but on a smaller scale.

The crash generated a fierce burst of gamma rays and a gravitational wave, a faint ripple in the fabric of space and time first theorized by Albert Einstein a century ago.

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