The electromagnetic counterpart of the gravitational wave source GW170817

Last updated November 10, 2017 by Alessandro Ferraro

Wednesday, November 8 2017, 03:00 PM, Bell Lecture Theatre

Speaker: Stephen Smartt (QUB)

On 17th Aug 2017, a strong source of gravitational waves was detected by the  LIGO-Virgo collaboration. The signal lasted for 60 secs and the event was followed just 2 seconds later by a short burst of gamma-rays detected by Fermi and Integral. All sources had consistent sky positions within about 30 square degrees. A fast fading electromagnetic counterpart (from x-ray to radio waves) was discovered and studied intensively for several weeks. I will present the results of this unprecedented discovery, the first electromagnetic counterpart of a gravitational wave source, the first identification of a neutron star – neutron star merger and the first direct evidence of the source and origin of the r-process elements. It is truly the era of “multi-messenger” astrophysics and opens up many new opportunities to probe extreme astrophysics, cosmology and the origin of the elements heavier than iron.


We are a Research Cluster of the School of Mathematics and Physics at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland. Our research interests are focused primarily on computational and theoretical physics.

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