Merging neutron stars: How cosmic events give insight into fundamental properties of matter

The opportunity to measure the gravitational waves of two merging neutron stars could offer answers to some of the fundamental questions about the structure of matter. At the extremely high temperatures and densities in the merger, scientists have conjectured a phase transition in which neutrons dissolve into their constituent quarks and gluons. In the current issue of Physical Review Letters, two international research groups report on their calculations of what the signature of such a phase transition in a gravitational wave would look like.

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