Last year, some of South Africa’s top astronomical researchers were part of an international team that witnessed a world first: the first cosmic event observed in both gravitational waves and light. The waves traced back to an unimaginably violent explosion resulting from a merger of two neutron stars. That explosion 130-million light years away shook our space-time continuum, creating gold in real time.

On 24 February 2018, join Professor Petri Vaisanen, director of the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO), as he describes what happened, what it means, and how the Southern African Large Telescope and the SAAO are charting exciting new paths in astronomical science research.

“2017 added excitement to the field manyfold,” writes Vaisanen to Maropeng ahead of the much-anticipated public lecture. “Essentially, a totally new branch of astrophysics was born, when the gravitational waves were put together with visible light and other electromagnetic radiation. These all traced back to an unimaginably violent explosion resulting from a merger of two neutron stars. That explosion 130-million light years away shook our space-time continuum, also creating gold and platinum in real time.”


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