We all should start fearing less a collision between an asteroid and Earth. There are cosmic events light-years more terrifying than a giant space rock smashing into our planet. Surely you would ask ‘what could possibly be more terrifying than an asteroid that could wipe all life forms from the planet?’. The answer is simple: a phenomenon that could destroy us all in a fraction of a second and without any kind of warning.
A collision between neutron stars is able to do a lot of damage – it can even create gravitational waves, which are shaking the fabric of spacetime itself.
130 million light-years away from Earth
If you somehow manage to travel such an unfathomable distance, you’ll see much closer the neutron star collision known as GW170817 that caused gravitational waves. Of course, this implies for the merger to still exist in the present, as the astronomers are seeing it when the light left it: 130 million years ago.
A new study published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society analyzes the collision and discovers that X-rays are still active at it even 1,000 days after the initial discovery of the space object. The X-ray signal was picked up by NASA’s Chandra observatory, while the object was first found by dozens of telescopes on Earth that captured different wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum. After the burst of highly energetic gamma rays that astronomers found, bursts of light and UV, radio and infrared signals were also detected.
Eleonora Troja, lead author of the study and an astrophysicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, says:
We really don’t know what to expect from this point forward, because all our models were predicting no X-rays,
Next time you get frightened by a comet or an asteroid, maybe you should think a little bigger.