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Neutron Stars Collide, Form Black Hole in New NASA Animation

A depiction of the collision of two neutron stars is seen in this screenshot from a NASA animation.
The U.S. space agency NASA released an animation of what they call “one of the most violent events in the universe.”

The animation, created using a supercomputer, depicts the collision of two neutron stars resulting in the creation of a black hole.

A neutron star is what’s left behind when a star up to 30 times as big as the sun dies in a supernova. According to NASA, a neutron star’s mass is equal to 1.5 times the mass of the sun all squeezed into a ball just 20 kilometers across. NASA says that at the core, a cubic centimeter of a neutron star would outweigh Mount Everest.

When the simulation begins, the stars are a mere 18 kilometers apart.

As they begin to collide, they are deformed by “intense tides,” which NASA says may crack their crusts and unleash their contents.

The lesser star is eventually shattered, and it’s contents form a spiral arm of hot material. Meanwhile, the larger star begins to accumulate that mass to the point that it can no longer support itself against gravity and collapses into a black hole.

NASA said most of the matter will eventually be swallowed by the black hole.

NASA researchers theorize that a merger of neutron stars produces short gamma-ray bursts. These bursts last less than two seconds and could unleash as much energy as “as all the stars in our galaxy produce over one year.”

Watch the NASA animation: