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NASA’s Retired Compton Mission Reveals Superheavy Neutron Stars

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Astronomers analyzing archival talks of powerful explosions called short gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) had noticed light patterns showing the brief presence of a superheavy neutron star shortly before it collapsed into a black hole. This fleeting, massive object was likely created from the crash of two neutron stars.

“We know that short GRBs form when orbiting neutron stars crash together, and we know they eventually collapse into a black hole, but the precise sequence of events is not well understood,” said Cole Miller, a professor of astronomy at UMCP and a co-author of the paper. “At some point, the nascent black hole erupts with a jet of fast-moving particles that emits an intense flash of gamma rays, the highest-energy form of light, and we want to learn more about how that develops.”

“These results are very important as they set the stage for future measurements of hypermassive neutron stars by gravitational wave observatories,” said Chryssa Kouveliotou, chair of the physics department at George Washington University in Washington, who was not involved in the work.

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