Part of a series on the Best of 2017
Popular Science selection of stories including one on Gravitational Waves
Yes, using gravitational waves—tiny ripples in the fabric of spacetime—to detect black hole collisions was cool. But in 2017, the hunt for gravitational waves leveled up in a major way. In September, scientists announced the first-ever detection that combined the powers of LIGO with a new Italian observatory called Virgo. You can read more about why three detectors are so much better than two here.
And it just kept getting better. In October, researchers published evidence of colliding neutron stars, also detected using gravitational waves. The goings-on of these intensely dense celestial bodies could help us understand the origins of our own solar system. Scientists estimate that a single neutron star collision could produce 100 Earth masses worth of gold, a few hundred worth of platinum, and tens of uranium.