NASA / AEI / ZIB / M. KOPPITZ / L. REZZOLLA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY NASA / AEI / ZIB / M. KOPPITZ / L. REZZOLLA / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Merger of two neutron stars, simulation. Redder colours indicate lower densities. Green and white ribbons and lines represent magnetic fields. The orbiting neutron stars rapidly lose energy by emitting gravitational waves and merge after about three orbits, or in less than 8 milliseconds. The merger amplifies and scrambles the merged magnetic field. A black hole forms and the magnetic field becomes more organized, eventually producing structures capable of supporting the relativistic jets that power short gamma-ray bursts. Such a collision, known as a kilonova, produces elements heavier than iron, gamma rays, and gravitational waves.
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