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The kilonova counterpart to GW170817

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  • UserMatt Nicholl (Harvard CfA)
  • ClockThursday 30 November 2017, 11:00-12:00
  • HouseNuffield G17.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Ilya Mandel.

On 17 August 2017, the LIGO -Virgo gravitational wave observatories detected a compact binary merger with a difference: for the first time, the component masses were consistent with neutron stars rather than black holes. Moreover, the Fermi satellite simultaneously detected a short gamma-ray burst from a consistent sky position, marking the beginning of joint GW-EM astronomy. I will describe our discovery of the optical counterpart using the Dark Energy Camera, and subsequent follow-up in optical, infrared, UV, X-ray and radio. The wealth of data reveals multiple emission components including a relativistic jet and the first clear evidence for a radioactive ‘kilonova’ comprised of r-process ejecta, proving that neutron star mergers are a key source of the heaviest elements. I will show how our modelling of the transient and its host galaxy sheds light on the physical conditions in the system and its pre-merger history.

This talk is part of the Astrophysics Talks Series series.

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