Jet from neutron stars seems to travel seven times the speed of light

An optical illusion created by the relative positions of Earth and a pair of colliding neutron stars makes it seem like a jet of radiation is travelling at seven times the speed of light – but thankfully no laws of physics have been broken

Space 12 October 2022

Neutron stars

An artist’s impression of two neutron stars colliding

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

A jet of radiation from two colliding neutron stars appears to be travelling at seven times the speed of light, according to measurements from the Hubble Space Telescope. Although this is merely an optical illusion, as nothing can travel faster than the speed of light, it provides key insights into mysterious gamma ray bursts, which aren’t fully understood.

In 2017, astronomers at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory detected a wave, GW170817, produced from the collision of two neutron stars. This was …

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