October 17, 2017

"Some 130 million years ago, in another galaxy, two neutron stars... produced gravitational waves... a brief flash of light a million trillion times as bright as the sun..."

"... and then a hot cloud of radioactive debris. The afterglow hung for several days, shifting from bright blue to dull red as the ejected material cooled in the emptiness of space. Astronomers detected the aftermath of the merger on Earth on August 17... Using infrared telescopes, astronomers studied the spectra—the chemical composition of cosmic objects—of the collision and found that the plume ejected by the merger contained a host of newly formed heavy chemical elements, including gold, silver, platinum, and others. Scientists estimate the amount of cosmic bling totals about 10,000 Earth-masses of heavy elements."

From "The Plume of Gold Ejected by a Cosmic Collision" (The Atlantic).

27 comments:

fizzymagic said...

As a physicist, I am used to articles that dumb down science and get detais wrong. What you would expect, however, is that a magazine like The Atlantic would be able to do very basic English grammar.

The scientists studied the spectrum of the resulting object. One spectrum, probably by several instruments, but not multiple spectra.

And yes, I know because I read the paper.

Darrell said...

So I missed another golden opportunity by 130 million years and vast astronomical distances.
Fuck me!

EDH said...

"a brief flash of light a million trillion times as bright as the sun... and then a hot cloud of radioactive debris. The afterglow hung for several days, shifting from bright blue to dull red as the ejected material cooled in the emptiness of space."

And on the 7th day, God lit a cigarette.

rhhardin said...

Everything produces gravitational waves.

rhhardin said...

Your lake produces both gravitational waves and gravity waves.

rhhardin said...

In a curious paradox, the center of gravity of your lake rises when waves form.

It's a curious paradox because probably it's only paradoxical if you're somewhat mathematically inclined. You mentally solve the wrong problem.

Rusty said...

rhhardin said...
Your lake produces both gravitational waves and gravity waves.

It can also be a watery grave. He said with gravity.
OK I'll quit now.

Curious George said...

There's gold in them thar plumes!

n.n said...

We have barely observed the edge of the solar system with limited accuracy, but we confidently reject the scientific method, indulge in conflation of logical domains, and exercise liberal inference of states and processes to the edge of the universe and beyond, past, present, and future. People really want to believe... in something.

Meanwhile, there is a sincere belief that human life is the outcome of spontaneous conception at an appointed time of viability.

Progress. One step forward. Two steps backward.

William said...

Mystery of the cosmos? Yeah, right.

Assrat said...

>So I missed another golden opportunity by 130 million years and vast astronomical distances.

Nah. All you have to do is go straight down a few thousand miles. All the heavy metals sink into the core. There's enough gold down there to build entire cities.

tcrosse said...

The original Golden Shower.

Jake said...

In an infinite universe that seems like very little bling.

Paul said...

Thar is gold in them thar hills!

Moon Zero Two!!!!

Fernandinande said...

fizzymagic said...
And yes, I know because I read the paper.


The paper with 4,500 authors? That list of authors must be the size of a bustling city!

Here's a picture of the spectacular dot; it's to the upper-left of a much bigger, but officially uninteresting dot.

Crimso said...

"The scientists studied the spectrum of the resulting object."

That's not important. What's important is what the data says. ["Spectrum" is not nearly as abused as "datum," though I feel your pain]

Fernandinande said...

rhhardin said...
Everything produces gravitational waves.


The violent collisions between my fingers and this keyboard produced gravitational waves, cosmic ripples powerful enough to stretch and squeeze the fabric of the universe.

Wow!

The bartender said "We don't allow your kind in here!" A neutrino walks into a bar.

The Cracker Emcee Activist said...

Bezos could offer deep space mining shares today, and they'd sell like hot cakes. The real Gold Rush is catching the suckers on the way to the Gold Rush.

Fernandinande said...

A neutron star collides with a bar and asks the bartender "How much for a beer?" and the bartender says, "For you, no charge."

mockturtle said...

If only I had invested in gold 130 million years ago!

Jay Elink said...

Two hydrogen atoms walk into a bar.

One says, "I think I've lost an electron."

When the other says, "Are you sure?", the first replies, "Sure? I'm positive!"

Mike said...

I was one of many involved in the follow-up observations. One of the most exciting events of my lifetime.

Assrat said...

>I was one of many involved in the follow-up observations. One of the most exciting events of my lifetime.

You lucky devil! Many congratulations!

The Godfather said...

This story is infinitely (OK, I exaggerate for emphasis) more important than any other story on Althouse today, and yet it has collected only a little more than two score comments to date (some of which are informative, and several of which are funny, however). Imagine what the commentariat would make of a story that said that Harvey Weinstein emitted gravity waves into a potted plant, or that Trump has issued an executive order banning foreign gravity waves from entering the US unless they have been extremely vetted.

mikeski said...

Of all the geeky "walks into a bar" jokes, I like this one best:

Three mathematicians walk into a bar.

The bartender says "So, all of ya want a beer?"

The first mathematician says "I don't know."

The second says "I don't know."

The third says "Yes!"

And the bartender says "OK, three beers, comin' up."

(Marking "I am not a robot" for this comment is stretching the truth.)

Assrat said...

>Moon Zero Two!!!!

Aluminum?

Sapphire.

southcentralpa said...

"Making a plume of gold" Sounds like a "next project" for Peter Weyland (from the original Alien: Engineers script)