Today’s scientists just witnessed two stars collide 130 million years in the past. We have Albert Einstein to thank for showing us where to look.
Story by Jay Moon

He was a smart guy, that Albert Einstein — even if some of his theories took 100 years to verify. One such theory was Einstein’s assertion in 1915 of the existence of gravitational waves; ripples that cross both space and time. On August 17, over 1000 scientists working with gravitational wave observatories based in the U.S. and Italy were able to use the math behind Einstein’s theory to locate an object in the sky for the first time ever. In this particular case, it was the collision of two ultra-dense neutron stars each carrying more mass than our sun, the shockwaves of which had to travel 130 million light-years before earthly instruments were able to record them.