This year, astronomers witnessed a cosmic spectacle when two neutron stars—the dense remains of collapsing stars—crashed into each other billions of lightyears away. Their gargantuan collision lit up the galaxy with a flash and gave rise to a magnetar—a supermassive star with a hyper-powerful magnetic field. Astronomers have known about magnetars, but this event marks the first time they’ve ever witnessed one being born, reports Rafi Letzer for Live Science.
Using remarkably powerful equipment, including the Hubble Space Telescope and the Swift Observatory, the scientists observed a quick flash of light on May 22. The stars’ collision certainly didn’t occur that night—instead, it occurred 5.47 billion years ago, and its light had just reached Earth, according to a press release.
The team observed a quick flash of gamma radiation, the result of the stars crashing and sending space matter blasting through the galaxy to settle among the stars. Then