GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER / NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GODDARD SPACE FLIGHT CENTER / NASA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Neutron stars merging, gamma-ray burst. Animation (clip 7 of 11) showing two neutron stars producing a gamma-ray burst (GRB) as they merge to form a black hole. The process is shown in close-up first, followed by a more distant view showing the jets emerging in opposite directions. GRBs are extremely energetic releases of gamma rays, visible across the universe in the direction the radiation is emitted. The precise cause varies depending on the duration. Shorter ones (as here) are thought to occur during the merger of colliding neutron stars. Neutron stars are immensely dense stellar core remnants, formed after a massive star runs out of hydrogen fuel and its core collapses. Due to the immense masses involved, large amounts of energy are released when two neutron stars merge. Later clips in this sequence (K003/2670-2660) show the process in detail, as modelled by the Damiana supercomputer at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics.
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