NuStar -- 003

NuStar -- 003

cloud of debris

This illustration shows the hot, dense, expanding cloud of debris stripped from the neutron stars just before they collided. This cloud produces the kilonova's visible and infrared light. Within this neutron-rich debris, large quantities of some of the universe's heaviest elements were forged, producing hundreds of Earth masses of gold and platinum.

IMAGE: NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center/CI Lab