In Videos: Gravitational Wave Detection from Neutron-Star Crash

Visualization of a star merger that produces gravitational waves.
Visualization of a star merger that produces gravitational waves. (Image credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/ Dana Berry)

Update Oct. 17: For the first time, gravitational waves from the merger of two neutron stars has been detected and its source has been visually observed with telescopes. The LIGO and Virgo collaborations first detected the gravitational waves on Aug. 17, 2017, and the sky coordinates of its source were then studied by several observatories around the world. Further study has revealed that the merger likely produced mind-blowing amounts of precious metals like gold and platinum. Learn more about the event: 

How much gold and platinum?

UC Berkeley theoretical astrophysicist Dan Kasen breaks down how much of the precious metals may have been produced by the neutron star merger:

How far away from Earth was the neutron star merger?

One hundred million light-years away! In comparison, the black hole mergers from previous gravitational wave  detections were at least a billion light years away. Chad Hanna, assistant professor of physics and of astronomy & astrophysics and Freed Early Career Professor at Penn State explains:

First detection of the gravitational waves source with the CSIRO telescope in Australia

University of Sydney associate professor Tara Murphy explains:

Want to know more about Multi-Messenger Astrophysics?

Watch Chad Hanna paint a clearer picture with a film analogy:  

What is the difference between this and previous gravitational waves detection?

Bangalore Sathyaprakash, Elsbach Professor of Physics and Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at Penn State explains:

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Steve Spaleta
Senior Producer

Steve Spaleta is's Senior Producer. Since 2007, Steve has produced and edited space, science and entertainment-related videos for He is also the producer/writer/editor of's CosMix series on space-enthused artists. He studied psychology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and is originally from Zadar, Croatia by way of Astoria, NY. To see Steve's latest project, follow him on Twitter and follow's VideoFromSpace YouTube Channel.