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About This Image: Simulating Giant Waves on Neutron Stars

Research by Lee Lindblom and Michele Vallisneri of Caltech and Joel Tohline of LSU using NPACI supercomputer to simulate rapidly-rotating newborn neutron star, showing final stages of giant oscillations driven by gravitational radiation, which spins the star down dramatically. The surprisingly monochromatic gravity waves from this process provide a clear signature that astronomers hope to detect with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory. The r-mode waves on the
star grow exponentially until the waves begin to break on the surface (see figure) and strong shockwaves quickly damp them. Entire cycle of growth and damping takes only a few minutes. From center outward, orange, yellow, red, and blue translucent areas indicate surfaces of constant density. For more on neutron stars, follow this link.