International Business Times
August 5, 2013
Celestial mergers between black holes and super-dense neutron stars could produce short-lived gamma-ray explosions in space and can explain the origin of chemical elements such as gold and platinum, scientists said.
The latest discovery, which appeared in a special online edition of the journal Nature on Saturday, was made based on last month’s observations by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The Hubble detected a fading fireball from a new kind of stellar blast called a “kilonova,” an incident that was followed by a brief short gamma-ray burst, or GRB, in a galaxy almost four billion light-years from Earth.
Scientists said that a kilonova has long been predicted by astronomers to accompany a short-duration GRB but had not been seen until now. Such an explosion is so powerful that it can be 1,000 times brighter than a typical star explosion, called a nova. On the other hand, a typical supernova, the self-detonation of a massive star, could be 100 times brighter than a kilonova.