Gravitational Wave Optical Transient Observer Telescope Neutron Star Collision
Photo credit: BBC News / Kevin Church
The Gravitational Wave Optical Transient Observer (GOTO), located on the volcanic Spanish island of La Palma, is designed to search for the collisions of neutron stars, which are the key to our understanding of the universe. Light from these collisions is only visible for a couple of nights, so GOTO must seek them out quickly, as they are thought to have created heavy metals that formed the stars and planets billions of years ago.


Gravitational Wave Optical Transient Observer Telescope Neutron Star Collision
Since neutron stars are so heavy, just a small teaspoon of their material weighs in at a massive 4-billion tons. This high-tech telescope will allow researchers to see what’s going on in these dead suns that have collapsed under their own immense weight. Neutron stars have such strong gravity they they are drawn to each other, eventually crashing and merging. When this happens, the resulting event causes a flash of light and powerful shockwave that ripples across the universe. A far different event from when spiral galaxies collide.

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Gravitational Wave Optical Transient Observer Telescope Neutron Star Collision

You would think that these explosions are very energetic, very luminous, it should be easy. But we are having to search through a hundred million stars for the one object that we are interested in. We have to do this very rapidly because the object will disappear within two days,” said Dr Joe Lyman, astrophysics professor.

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