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Neutron Star Smash-Up Just Provided a New Measure of a Fundamental Cosmic Feature

Now there’s one more cool thing: Astronomers have used it to refine one of the most fundamental characteristics of the entire Universe – the Hubble Constant. The Hubble Constant is the name given to the rate at which the Universe is expanding, and discrepancies in this measurement have been giving cosmologists grief for some time. “This burst of gravitational waves can be used as a ‘standard siren’: based on the shape of the gravitational wave signal, we can tell how ‘bright’ the event should have been in gravitational waves. By comparing tiny changes in the location and shape of this plasma, the team were able to calculate the orientation of the neutron stars – which, in turn, allowed them to calculate its precise distance. “But,” Deller said, “we showed that in the near future, observations of more merging neutron stars will be able to make that discrimination.

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