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Astrophysicists detect first black hole-neutron star mergers

An artistic image inspired by a black hole-neutron star merger event. Credit: Carl Knox, OzGrav/Swinburne

First-ever detection of a black hole merging with a neutron star

A long time ago, in two galaxies about 900 million light-years away, two black holes each gobbled up their neutron star companions, triggering gravitational waves that finally hit Earth in January 2020.

Discovered by an international team of astrophysicists including Northwestern University researchers, two events -- detected just 10 days apart -- mark the first-ever detection of a black hole merging with a neutron star. The findings will enable researchers to draw the first conclusions about the origins of these rare binary systems and how often they merge.

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Which way does the solar wind blow?

A July 12, 2021, coronal mass ejection seen in coronagraphs; Image credit: Talwinder Singh et al., The American Astronomical Society

Researchers develop new software for improved space weather prediction

The surface of the sun churns with energy and frequently ejects masses of highly magnetized plasma toward Earth. Sometimes these ejections are strong enough to crash through the magnetosphere -- the natural magnetic shield that protects the Earth -- damaging satellites or electrical grids. Such space weather events can be catastrophic.

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Could we harness energy from black holes?

Photo credit: JPL-Caltech/NASA

Study indicates that energy can be extracted from black holes

A new study indicates that, someday, energy could be extracted from black holes.

A remarkable prediction of Einstein's theory of general relativity -- the theory that connects space, time, and gravity -- is that rotating black holes have enormous amounts of energy available to be tapped.

For the last 50 years, scientists have tried to come up with methods to unleash this power.

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