We Might Have Seen The Afterglow of a Neutron Star Kilonova Explosion

A strange X-ray glow seen in the sky three and a half years after an epic collision between two neutron stars is a first for science.

According to astronomers studying the region of space, it could be the afterglow of the kilonova explosion that was generated by the merger, likely produced by a shock wave from the explosion slamming into dust in the region of space around the explosion.

Alternatively, the glow could be produced by material ejected during the explosion falling back down onto the newly merged object, likely a low-mass black hole.

Either way, the phenomenon appears to have never been detected before.

“We have entered uncharted territory here in studying the aftermath of a neutron star merger,” says astronomer Aprajita Hajela of Northwestern University.

“We are looking at something new and extraordinary for the very first time. This gives us an opportunity to study and understand new physical processes, which have not before been observed.”


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