of the Year

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Cosmic convergence

The merger of two neutron stars captivated thousands of observers and fulfilled multiple astrophysical predictions

On 17 August, scientists around the world witnessed something never seen before: One hundred and thirty million light-years away, two neutron stars spiraled into each other in a spectacular explosion that was studied by observatories ranging from gamma ray detectors to radio telescopes. The blast confirmed several key astrophysical models, revealed a birthplace of many heavy elements, and tested the general theory of relativity as never before. That first observation of a neutron-star merger, and the scientific bounty it revealed, is Science’s 2017 Breakthrough of the Year. Read more …

People's choice

Visitors to Science’s website were offered the chance to vote on a list of candidates for Breakthrough of the Year. The first round of voting narrowed the field to four, and a second round, in which more than 12,000 votes were cast, determined the People’s Choice. Science’s Breakthrough of the Year, the neutron star collision, did not make it to the final four. The results for the People’s Choice are:


What went wrong in the world of science in 2017.