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Observatories Across the World Announce Groundbreaking New Gravitational Wave Discovery

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Brian Plymel
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Vicky Kalogera, a Northwestern University physicist, took her week of much-needed vacation in Utah this past August.

“I canceled everything and ended up working nonstop since that moment,” she told Gizmodo.

Today, physicists and astronomers around the world are announcing a whole new kind of gravitational wave signal at a National Science Foundation press conference in Washington, DC.

That August day, x-ray telescopes, visible light, radio telescopes, and gamma-ray telescopes all spotted a flash, one consistent with a pair of neutron stars swirling together, colliding and coalescing into a black hole.

The observation, called a “kilonova,” simultaneously answered questions like “where did the heavy metal in our Universe come from” and “what causes some of the gamma-ray bursts scientists have observed since the 60s.” It also posed new ones.

The Fermi Gamma-ray Space telescope started the dominos at 8:41 am EDT, detecting what NASA astrophysicist Julie McEnery called a “perfectly normal short gamma-ray burst,” a quick flash of invisible light from some distant source.

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Brian Plymel
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