Neutron Star Merger Directly Observed for the First Time

On August 17, 2017, at 12:41:04 UTC, scientists made the first direct observation of a merger between two neutron stars—the dense, collapsed cores that remain after large stars die in a supernova explosion. The merger is the first cosmological event observed in both gravitational waves—ripples in the fabric of spacetime—and the entire spectrum of light, from gamma rays to radio waves.

Gravitational Waves Detected a Fourth Time

On August 14, 2017, at 10:30:43 UTC, scientists observed gravitational waves—ripples in the fabric of spacetime—for the fourth time.

The twin Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors—located in Livingston, Louisiana, and Hanford, Washington—detected the gravitational wave event, named GW170814. 

Turning Ions into Quantum Cats

In Schrödinger's famous thought experiment, a cat seems to be both dead and alive—an idea that strains credulity. These days, cats still don't act this way, but physicists now regularly create analogues of Schrödinger's cat in the lab by smearing the microscopic quantum world over longer and longer distances.

johnson scstate ncomm 2017 4An ion (purple) sits in the center of an ion trap. Ultrafast laser pulses create a "cat state" by pushing apart the ion's internal quantum states (red and blue). (Credit: E. Edwards/JQI) 

Sensing Atoms Caught in Ripples of Light

Optical fibers are ubiquitous, carrying light wherever it is needed. These glass tunnels are the high-speed railway of information transit, moving data at incredible speeds over tremendous distances.

Space-based Experiment Will Tackle the Mysteries of Cosmic Rays

On August 14, 2017, a groundbreaking University of Maryland-designed cosmic ray detector will travel to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the SpaceX-12 Commercial Resupply Service mission. The instrument, named ISS Cosmic Ray Energetics and Mass (ISS-CREAM), is roughly the size of a refrigerator and will remain installed on the ISS’ Japanese Experiment Module for at least three years. The massive amounts of data ISS-CREAM will collect could reveal new details about the origin and diversity of cosmic rays.

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