The GOTO or Gravitational Wave Optical Transient observer telescope will help scientists to witness the collision of two neutron stars for the first time ever. These colliding dead Suns are thought to be responsible for the birth of planets like Earth and stars.
Neutron stars can be understood as dead Suns. These are the collapsed cores of supergiant stars, which are formed after they have run out of volatile elements capable of causing nuclear fusion to give out energy and luminescence. But these dead Suns are very important when it comes to formation of stars, planets and galaxies, at least as far as the theory goes. It is believed that neutron star collisions have created all the heavy metals that are an important part of any star or planet we know of. However, it has not been proven because we have never been able to witness the collision of dead Suns, an extremely rare event. But now, scientists are hopeful to observe an event like this and find out how this collision causes the birth of celestial bodies, including Earth, because of a new telescope called the Gravitational Wave Optical Transient observer or GOTO telescope.
According to a report by BBC, the GOTO telescope was built by the British and has been kept above the clouds on the Spanish island of La Palma. And it has been tasked with hunting colliding neutron stars across space. Danny Steegh, professor at Warwick University told BBC, “When a really good detection comes along, it’s all hands on deck to make the most of it. Speed is of the essence. We are looking for something very short-lived – there’s not much time before they fade away”.
Collision of dead Suns by GOTO telescope to reveal the secrets behind the birth of Earth
In all fairness, humans came to know about neutron star collisions in 2017, but that happened out of luck and, as it happened, just the after-effects were observed where huge gravitational waves were released and not the event itself. The GOTO telescope is expected to help scientists observe the exact moment when such collisions happen.
But one telescope looking across space is not really an efficient plan to observe such short-lived and rare events. Thankfully, the telescope has been fitted with instruments that can detect flash of light and massive gravitational waves in space when two neutron stars collide. Scientists claim that the telescope can pinpoint the exact location of the collision within hours or even minutes of first detecting the gravitational waves.
While it seems simple on paper, the task is more monumental than it appears. Dr. Joe Lyman, an astrophysics professor, told BBC, “You would think that these explosions are very energetic, very luminous, it should be easy. But we are having to search through a hundred million stars for the one object that we are interested in. We have to do this very rapidly because the object will disappear within two days”.