Albert Sneppen and Dara Watson from the University of Copenhagen studied the kilonova AT2017gfo for 2017. Scientists
Kilons are gigantic explosions thatoccur when two neutron stars orbit each other and eventually collide. They give rise to the most extreme physical conditions in the universe. Thanks to the kilones, the heaviest elements of the periodic table, such as gold, platinum and uranium, appear.
In 2017, a kilonova exploded at a distance of 140 million light-years from Earth, and for the first time scientists have collected detailed data on an event of this kind. Physicists from all over the world still interpret them.
"Two ultra-compact stars that rotatearound each other at 100 times per second before collapsing. Intuition and all previous models indicate that the explosion cloud created by the collision should have a flattened and rather asymmetric shape,” explains Albert Sneppen, Ph.D. and student at the Niels Bohr Institute, the first author of the study.
Artistic illustration of the kilonova. Credit: Robin Dinel/Carnegie Institute of Science
Therefore, scientists were very surprised to find that in the case of the 2017 kilonova, everything was different. The explosion resulted in the formation of a symmetrical and almost perfect sphere.
“No one expected the explosion to look like this. It makes no sense that it is spherical, like a ball,” concludes Dara Watson, assistant professor at the Niels Bohr Institute and co-author of the study.
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On the cover: illustration of a spherical explosion, photo by Albert Snappen