ST Explainers.... collision of neutron stars, Japan's snap election, Raffles Hotel's history

An artist's impression of two neutron stars colliding, a phenomenon which set the science world abuzz.
An artist's impression of two neutron stars colliding, a phenomenon which set the science world abuzz.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

This is a fortnightly round-up of FAQs, pegged on news events, published on The Straits Times' website. Go to for more

From the collision of neutron stars to the rich history of a local landmark, ST Explainers tackled a range of topics big and small in the past fortnight. Also of interest were the political events in three countries: China's 19th Party Congress, Japan's snap election and Austria's election results.

Three things to know about neutron stars colliding

The astrophysics world was abuzz when news that two neutron stars had been observed merging was announced on Oct 16. But what was the big deal? We break it down to three essential things you need to know about the phenomenon and why the science world is in such a tizzy over it.

Key themes from Xi's congress speech

China's ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) held its five-yearly national congress from Oct 18 to 24. The leadership transition at the event helped consolidate President Xi Jinping's power over party and state.

Before the 19th Party Congress, ST Explainers looked at seven reasons why the event mattered.

On Oct 18, President Xi delivered his 31/2-hour work report, summing up China's achievements during his first five-year term, the challenges ahead and the country's policy direction in the next five years. We look at seven key themes from his speech.

All about Japan's snap election

Japan's snap election was held on Oct 22, as Typhoon Lan lashed the country. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's election gambit paid off as he won a two-thirds "super majority". Japan correspondent Walter Sim looked at seven reasons why the snap polls mattered.

Mr Abe's win will pave the way for more ultra-easy monetary policy. For a quick dissection of the economic impact of his landslide victory and which industries are likely to win, or lose, go to

The win also gave a boost to Mr Abe's dream of changing the pacifist Constitution. We look at what is unique about Japan's Constitution as well as what Mr Abe wants to change at

Impact of the Austrian vote on Europe

Austria also held an election, on Oct 15, and its anti-immigration Freedom Party delivered one of its strongest performances, returning to government after a 12-year absence. We look at some key takeaways from the Austrian vote and its implications for Europe.

Philippines' road to taking back Marawi

The Philippine military finally took back the city of Marawi after a protracted battle against the militants who took over the city in May. Philippines correspondent Raul Dancel recapped the struggle to retake the city and key events in a timeline of the crisis.

Thailand bids farewell to a revered king

After a year-long mourning period, Thais finally bade a final farewall to their revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej with an elaborate funeral service. Regional correspondent Tan Hui Yee walked readers through some of the key things of the five-day rites in her guide at

Raffles Hotel through the years

The grand dame of Singapore hotels, Raffles Hotel, is going through major restoration works and will re-open in the second half of next year. ST Explainers looks at the history of this venerable 19th-century edifice, at who built, owned and sold the landmark in Beach Road.

Washington's guest house with a rich history

Another historic building, this time located in Washington, also offered fodder this past week as the place where Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is staying for the duration of his six-day visit. Blair House, a property with more than 120 rooms spanning 60,600 sq ft, is the official residence of guests of the President of the United States.

Find out more about its history and evolution at

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2017, with the headline 'ST Explainers.... collision of neutron stars, Japan's snap election, Raffles Hotel's history'. Print Edition | Subscribe