“We measured an apparent motion that is four times faster than light. That illusion, called superluminal motion, results when the jet is pointed nearly toward Earth and the material in the jet is moving close to the speed of light,” said Kunal Mooley, of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and Caltech.
The first-ever observations of merging binary stars stunned the world’s astronomy community, but not quite as stunning as the first-ever signal from extraterrestrial life will be. GW170817 is the name given to the gravitational wave signal seen by the LIGO and Virgo detectors on 17 August 2017. Lasting for about 100 seconds, the signal was produced by the merger of the two neutron stars. The observation was then confirmed – the first time this has happened for gravitational waves – by observations with light waves.