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Two dead stars clash, rippling the cosmos: this is their sound

Some 1.2 billion years ago, two black holes–neutron stars, superdense remnants of dead stars—clashed and merged into a new black hole, 62 times the size of the sun. A century ago, Einstein had predicted the existence of “gravitational waves,” ripples on the fabric of time-space in the universe and that are, on a cosmic scale, comparable to those made by a stone thrown into a pond. Their effects distort the constant values of space and time, stretching and shrinking this plane of reality. Two LIGO antennas specifically built for that purpose in Washington State and Louisiana, in the U.S. picked up the 12 second soundbite. It all happened at the time of the Precambrian era, when only the most basic single-celled and multi-celled forms of life existed on Earth and the continents had still not broken apart from a dominant supercontinent. So, in a way, what we have received from one extreme of the cosmos, one billion light-years away, is old news. But what a piece of news.


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