Universe  ID: 10543

Neutron Star Merge

Binary systems containing neutron stars are born when the cores of two orbiting stars collapse in supernova explosions. Neutron stars pack the mass of our sun into the size of a city. They are so dense and packed so tightly that the boundaries atoms nuclei disappear. In such systems, Einstein's theory of general relativity predicts that neutron stars emit gravitational radiation, ripples of space-time. This causes the orbits to shrink and gradually brings the neutron stars closer together. Shown here is such a system after about 1 billion years, when two equal-mass neutron whirl around each other at 60,000 times a minute. The stars merge in a few milliseconds, sending out a burst of gravitational waves and a brief, intense gamma-ray burst.


Dana Berry (Skyworks Digital): Lead Animator
Erica Drezek (HTSI): Producer
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Short URL to share this page:


This item is part of this series:
Astrophysics Animations

SVS >> Gravity
SVS >> Neutron Star
DLESE >> Space science
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Spectral/Engineering >> Gamma Ray
SVS >> Astrophysics
SVS >> Gravitational Waves
SVS >> Universe
SVS >> Swift
NASA Science >> Universe

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version