HOUSTON (FOX 26) - It's a stellar discovery truly out of this world and it has scientists asking more questions than ever before.
Scientists say two neutron stars have been spiraling on a crash course for millions, maybe billions of years. A neutron star is essentially a ball of dense matter, no larger than the size of the inner loop in Houston, according to one researcher. When the two stars collided, a never before seen extraterrestrial event, known as a kilonova, unfolded.
"At that last gasp, there's a cataclysmic event when the two stars merge with each other and that's what was seen," says Matthew Baring, Ph.D. who is a physics and astronomy professor at Rice University.
The stellar merger observed around 130 million light years away. Found within the constellation of Hydra, Galaxy NGC-4993 is where the kilonova originated.
"It's a fascinating insight into an exotic part of the universe," says Dr. Baring who has spent years researching this sort of binary stellar phenomenon, never before seen in space.
The collision, picked up by the Fermi Gamma-ray space telescope, orbiting above earth's atmosphere, monitored by scientists like Dr. Adam Goldstein who lives in Huntsville, Alabama.
"That particular day, I was still in my pajamas actually and we got a Gamma ray burst," explains Dr. Goldstein.
Dr. Goldstein is a research scientist at the University of Space Research Association. He also works as part of a co-operative agreement with NASA Marshall Space Flight Center.
A mess of cosmic debris hurled in all sorts of directions.
Illustrations shedding some light on the imagination scientists have, like Dr. Baring. "Elements like platinum and gold and other heavy elements appeared to be produced in this debris field in a very, very short time."
Dr. Baring also saying the chances of observing a neutron star collision millions of years away from earth is extremely rare and five minutes made all the difference.
"We will always find things because that's the nature of human ingenuity," says Dr. Baring.