Scientists detected the warping of space generated by the collision of two dead stars, or neutron stars.
They have confirmed that such mergers lead to the production of the gold and platinum that exists in the Universe.
The measurement of the gravitational waves given off by this cataclysmic event was made on 17 August by the LIGO-VIRGO Collaboration.
The discovery enabled telescopes all over the world to capture details of the merger as it unfolded.
David Reitze, executive director of the LIGO Laboratory at Caltech in Pasadena, California, said: “This is the one we’ve all been waiting for.”
The outburst took place in a galaxy called NGC 4993, located roughly a thousand billion, billion km away in the Constellation Hydra.
It happened 130 million years ago – when dinosaurs roamed the Earth. It was so far away that the light and gravitational waves have only just reached us.