If this hypothesis is confirmed, it could shed light on black holes, the darkest objects in the universe. (The lightest-known black holes harbor a minimum of four to five times the mass of the sun.)
Not all black holes form the same way, but this ultra-low-mass black hole would have taken shape after two supernova explosions left two neutron stars in a close-enough orbit for gravitational-wave radiation to help them collide — a strange and complicated journey, study team members said.
It would also be very interesting if astronomers determined that GW170817 generated a single gigantic neutron star. Such a result would challenge theories about the structure and formation of these exotic objects, researchers said.
"GW170817 is the astronomical event that keeps on giving," study co-author J. Craig Wheeler, also of the University of Texas, said in the statement. "We are learning so much about the astrophysics of the densest known objects from this one event."
Fellow study co-author Bruce Grossan, of the University of California at Berkeley, voiced similar sentiments.
"At the beginning of my career, astronomers could only observe neutron stars and black holes in our own galaxy, and now we are observing these exotic stars across the cosmos," Grossan said. "What an exciting time to be alive, to see instruments like LIGO and Chandra showing us so many thrilling things nature has to offer."
The new study was published online May 31 in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.
Original article on Space.com.
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Inside a Neutron Star (Infographic)