When Neutron Stars Collide
A supercomputer simulation shows the collision of two neutron stars with different masses in one of the most violent events in the universe. The end result is a black hole and a lot of debris from the less massive star, which is broken up by the tidal forces of the more massive one.
A neutron star is the compressed core left behind when a star, born with between 8 and 30 times the sun's mass, explodes as a supernova. Neutron stars pack about 1.5 times the mass of the sun—equivalent to about half a million Earths—into a ball just 12 miles (20 kilometers) across. These huge explosions are visible from Earth about once a day.
—Text by Dan Vergano and Kurt Mutchler, Photo Editing by Kurt Mutchler
Pictures: Extreme Sun and Stars
More than 200 billion stars fill the Milky Way galaxy and several hundred billion galaxies swirl in the universe. Our telescopes and supercomputers capture them in all their glory.