Kilonova Explosion Afterglow

The afterglow from an epic cosmic event known as “Kilonova” might have been spotted by astronomers. In the Astrophysical Journal Letters, a study based on the research was published.

Overview:

  • Kilonovas occur when two hyper-dense neutron stars collide, which are the remnants of stars that died in supernova explosions.
  • An afterglow in X-rays from the event, is dubbed GW170817, might have been spotted by astronomers.

How are the X-Rays generated?

The team which discovered this event suggested that as the debris expanded out from the collision, the sonic-boom-like shock which occurred heated up the materials surrounding it, thus generating X-rays.

Alternatively, debris falling towards a black hole formed by the neutron star merger could produce a similar impact, therefore astronomers caution that the discovery is tentative. Regardless of the type of discovery, it would be the first known to science.

How was it discovered?

In August 2017 a merger produced the first-ever discovery of such an event via gravitational waves or ripples of space-time. Hence, astronomers continue to study this region to see how the area is evolving.

X-ray emissions were spotted shortly after the event by astronomers using NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, however, in early 2018 the emission began to fade.

In 2020 the brightness decline stopped and the X-Ray emission remained constant. The X-ray brightness consistency was what indicated this being an unusual event.

Conclusion

More follow-up studies will be required to find out the ultimate cause of this event. If it is a kilonova, the researchers expect the X-ray and radio emissions to brighten as the shock passes through the surrounding environment. If it’s a black hole, though, the output should decline or remain constant.

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