(ORDO NEWS) — Back in 2017, scientists observed a striking collision between two neutron stars, releasing a super-powerful jet of radiation. NASA said that the resulting energy can be compared with the energy of a supernova.
The collected data suggests that scientists have discovered a substance that seems to move faster than light – which, of course, is impossible. But there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for the phenomenon.
The event, designated as GW170817, is the so-called binary neutron star merger. Neutron stars are the destroyed cores of once massive stars and are among the densest objects in the universe. According to NASA, just one teaspoon of such a star would weigh four billion tons on Earth.
Associated with this unfathomable density is a great deal of gravity enough for two of these neutron stars to collide in an explosive collision that fired gravitational waves and gamma rays into space, making scientists discover both for the first time in a neutron star merger.
The Habble Space Telescope observed two neutron stars collapsing into a black hole after the explosion. A spinning disk then formed around the black hole, blasting incredibly fast jets of matter into space.
By combining their findings with those of the US National Science Foundation, the scientists were able to reproduce the event with extreme accuracy, including the speed at which the jets traveled.
Faster than light
Initially, from Hubble’s observations, the jets appeared to be traveling at seven times the speed of light. Of course, this is impossible. Scientists attribute this discrepancy to a phenomenon known as FTL .
In fact, as the jet approaches our planet at nearly the speed of light, the light it emits at later points travels a shorter distance each time, making it appear to be moving faster than it actually is.
After making some additional calculations, the scientists determined the real speed: at least 99.97 percent of the speed of light – which, in fact, is already very fast.
The scientists hope their findings, published in the journal Nature, will lead to even more precise observations of neutron star mergers in the future, which could help calculate the expansion rate of the universe.
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