You may have heard that science can be a lonely affair and that scientists spend hours alone in their offices engaged in deep thought and performing esoteric calculations. That's just one part of it. In fact, science often is an extremely collaborative affair. Different scientists bring different expertise and join forces to answer fundamental questions about the natural work around us, of which we are an intergal part. A wonderful way to illustrate this is to show science in action. In this video, we look at what happened on Aug 17, 2017 when two neutron stars collided in a nearby galaxy. The event was unique because for the first time scientists could detect both gravitational waves (ripples of spacetime) and electromagnetic waves (oscillations of eletric and magnetif fields). Each of these carry different kind of "message" about the event, providing astronomers with unprecedented wealth of information about this cosmic cataclysm. The gravitational waves were detected by LIGO - a grand instrument which took 40 years to complete by thousands of scientists and engineers. The electromagnetic waves were detected by numerous telescopes and groups around the world, each designed to sense a different portion of the spectrum, and each telling their small part of the story. Thanks to these worldwide effort, we have now solved one more of the universe's mysteries confirming that gold, platinum and other heavy elements are forged during the collisions of neutron stars.
Tim Pyle is a multimedia producer at Caltech/IPAC. He and his colleage Robert Hurt, who is a visualization scientist produced the script, conducted the filming and created all graphics used in the video. Michelle Viotti (title, organization) provided additional input on the script along with XX, YY, ZZ (list people from UoL video group who've provided input). Our actors are Wil Wheaton and XXXX.
The mission of NASA’s Universe of Learning program is to create and disseminate education products, programs, and professional development experiences that use NASA Astrophysics science, technology, and subject matter experts to advance science understanding and literacy. Resulting products, programs, and professional development experiences will span a spectrum of environments and applications, enabling a rich learning “ecosystem” across the traditional boundaries of education and outreach. The project is a partnership between the Space Telescope Science Institute, Chandra X-ray Center, Caltech/IPAC, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Exoplanet Exploration Program, and Sonoma State University.