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CIERA Professor Wen-Fai Fong Interviewed by Science News

“When a pair of ultradense cores of dead stars smashed into one another, the collision shot a bright jet of charged subatomic particles through space.

Astronomers thought no such jet had made it out of the wreckage of the neutron star crash, first detected in August 2017. But new observations of the crash site using a network of radio telescopes from around the world show that a high-speed stream of particles did escape from the debris, researchers report online February 21 in Science….

…. And the way that the merger’s light began quickly dimming 150 days after the collision also supports the idea that a jet burst into view and then faded, says astrophysicist Wen-fai Fong of Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. If the dimming had been more gradual, it would have suggested that the jet was still trapped in the cocoon as it cooled off. Fong’s team reported observations of the merger up to 290 days after the crash in August 2018 in the Astrophysical Journal Letters, and has continued to observe the site since.”

Read the full article “Colliding neutron stars shot a light-speed jet through space“, by Lisa Grossman.


The article also includes a citation by CIERA Postdoc, Kate Alexander:

K.D. Alexander et al. A decline in the x-ray through radio emission from GW170817 continues to support an off-axis structured jet. The Astrophysical Journal Letters. Published August 20, 2018. doi:10.3847/2041-8213/aad637.