picture: Concept art of merging neutron stars and jets. Photo: Elizabeth Wheatley (@STScI)
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A dense jet of energy in space appears to travel seven times faster than the speed of light – a feat considered physically impossible in our universe. Although this fast pace is nothing more than an optical illusion, according to a new study, it still represents an explosion of energy shooting toward us at nearly the speed of light.
The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) has captured incredible views of the plane — which caught fire as a result of an unprecedented collision between two extremely dense objects, called neutron stars — resulting in one The most important breakthroughs in astronomical history The time of its discovery was in 2017.
While the jet did not actually break through the cosmic speed limit, it raced right to the edge of that impassable threshold, reaching at least 99.97 percent of the speed of light, which translates to about 670 million miles per hour. Scientists led by Kunal Muli, an astrophysicist at Caltech, used Hubble and other telescopes to record the plane’s “ultraluminescent motion”, meaning a triple illusion at faster than the speed of light, in A study published on Wednesday in temper nature.
“In this work we have shown that accurate astronomical measurement using space and infrared telescopes is an excellent way to measure the appropriate motions of jets in neutron star mergers,” Molly and co-authors said in the study. “The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) should be able to perform astrometry much better than that with HST, due to the larger collection area and smaller pixel size.”
The collision between these neutron stars was so explosive that it created ripples in the fabric of space-time, known as gravitational waves. Although the merger occurred 140 million light-years away, scientists were still able to detect these microwaves when they passed through Earth in August 2017.
This event, which was named gravitational wave (GW) 170817 after the date of its discovery, quickly acquired a critically important place in space history. For starters, this was the first time scientists had identified waves from a merger of two neutron stars. A handful of gravitational waves formed by mergers between black holes have been detected at that point, but collisions between neutron stars have remained elusive.
The nature of the objects is important because black hole mergers do not produce visible light, and can only be observed by the new process of gravitational wave astronomy. In contrast, collisions between neutron stars, compact bodies that form from the explosive death of large stars, actually produce luminous bursts of radiation.
The ability to capture two different signals of the same event – in this case with gravitational waves and an optical signal – can produce a wealth of insights that are impossible to discern from just one observational technology.
For this reason, scientists scrambled to get as many telescopes as possible aimed at the place in the sky where GW170817 arose to look for the radioactive explosion of mergers, including the jets these events launch into space. Sure enough, the remarkable effects of the collision were spotted by dozens of telescopes, which followed the volcanic eruption as they faded. The achievement represents a major advance in the field of multi-message astronomy, which describes observing multiple types of signals from the same event.
Now, five years later, Mollie and his colleagues have added more detail to this astronomical mosaic with observations from Hubble, as well as from the European Space Agency’s Gaia Observatory and several radio arrays on Earth involved in the Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI). The team was able to see the plane smash through a mass of space-burst material from the fusion, accelerating the mass to high speeds.
By measuring the motion of the point, the researchers were able to show that the jet travels seven times the speed of light. As far as we know, nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, except for the expansion of the universe itself. The illusory effect of super-movement stems from the super-relative speed of an aircraft, which moves slightly slower than the light it emits.
Matter in the plane barely follows luminous particles of light, known as photons, from our perspective on Earth. Because of this effect, photons emitted by a jet in the early stages of its eruption can reach Earth at about the same time as photons emitted in later stages, because the jet is more or less aligned with its own light output. This triple phenomenon makes it appear as if the plane is moving faster than the speed of light, a result that would shatter our understanding of physics, when in fact the plane is only moving near the speed of light, a result that is still very dangerous- baffling.
With this new study, Molly and colleagues provide a roadmap for discovering similar features in future neutron star consortia. These efforts may reveal some of the mysteries of these explosive events, such as the possible link between neutron star mergers and extremely bright flashes known as short gamma-ray bursts.
The researchers said in a study study.
“Combining optical and radio-VLBI measurements (with existing observing facilities) may be more robust, and could provide strong constraints on the viewing angles of neutron star mergers located 150 megaparsecs,” the team concluded. light years, “as long as they have appropriate tilt angles and occur in relatively dense environments compared to GW170817.”
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