Gravitational waves reveal 1st-of-its-kind merger between neutron star and mystery object

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Astronomers announced on April 5 that they may have detected a collision between a neutron star and a lightweight mystery object — an object larger than the largest known neutron star, but smaller than the smallest known black hole. The finding sheds light on objects that exist in this murky realm, which was long thought to be empty but, in recent times, has revealed otherwise.

More specifically, a signal detected in a pocket of the universe roughly 650 million light-years from Earth indicates a rare merger between a neutron star and what astronomers suspect is a surprisingly lightweight black hole. The pair would have danced around one another and merged about 650 million years ago, generating ripples in the fabric of space and time known as gravitational waves. These waves were sensed and flagged on May 29, 2023 by a network of antennas in Japan, Italy and the U.S. associated with the LIGO-Virgo-KAGRA (LVK) collaboration.

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