Astronomers See and Hear the Cosmos

A gravitational wave and a flash of light open up a new field of astronomy.

For hundreds of millions of years, two city-sized stars — each outweighing our sun — circled one another in a fatal dance. They were neutron stars, the collapsed cores left behind after giant stars explode into supernovas. Then, 130 million years ago, the dance ended. Their collision was fast and violent, likely spawning a black hole. And a shudder — a gravitational wave — rippled across the fabric of space-time. Light from the cataclysm followed seconds later. The spa…

The full text of this article is available to Discover Magazine subscribers only.

Subscribe and get 10 issues packed with:

  • The latest news, theories and developments in the world of science
  • Compelling stories and breakthroughs in health, medicine and the mind
  • Environmental issues and their relevance to daily life
  • Cutting-edge technology and its impact on our future
Already a subscriber? Register now!

Registration is FREE and takes only a few seconds to complete. If you are already registered on, please log in.