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Scientists puzzle over massive, never-before-seen star system in the Milky Way

Earlier this year, an international team of scientists announced the second detection of a gravitational-wave signal from the collision of two neutron stars. The event, called GW190425, is puzzling: The combined mass of the two neutron stars is greater than any other observed binary neutron star system. The combined mass is 3.4 times the mass of our sun.

A neutron star binary this massive has never been seen in our galaxy, and scientists have been mystified by how it could have formed—until now. A team of astrophysicists from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery (OzGrav) think they might have the answer.

Binary neutron stars emit gravitational waves—ripples in space-time— as they orbit each other, and scientists can detect these waves when the neutron stars merge. The gravitational waves contain information about the neutron stars, including their masses.

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