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Colliding stars reveal their gravitational wave secrets

Australian scientists have announced an “unparalleled” astrophysical discovery revealing that they have detected gravitational waves from the death spiral of two neutron stars.

Less than a month after three US professors were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the 2015 discovery of gravitational waves, a team of Australian astrophysicists, including Swinburne researchers, have announced a new international discovery.

It is the first time a cosmic event has been observed and measured in both light and gravitational waves.

Swinburne hosts the $31.3 million Australian Research Council’s Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav) which was established last year to capitalise on the original discovery of gravitational waves.

Swinburne’s Professor Matthew Bailes, Director of OzGrav, says the new discovery has enabled scientists to pinpoint the origin of gravitational waves and to actually see “the colossal event” that accompanied the gravitational waves.

“This was the first time that any cosmic event was observed through both the light it emitted and the gravitational ripples it caused in the fabric of space and time,” Professor Bailes says.

“The subsequent avalanche of science was virtually unparalleled in modern astrophysics.”

OzGrav is a collaboration between six universities in Australia – Swinburne University of Technology, Australian National University, the University of Western Australia, Monash University, the University of Melbourne, and the University of Adelaide.

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