Nav: Home

Astronomers follow gravitational waves to treasure

October 16, 2017

On August 17, 2017 the LIGO-Virgo collaboration alerted more than 90 astronomy teams around the world, that they had detected a signal (GW170817) consistent with the inspiral and merger of two neutron stars. Raffaele Flaminio (NAOJ and CNRS/LAPP), a scientist from the Virgo and KAGRA collaborations, explains that "Thanks to the combination of the data from the LIGO detectors in the US and the Virgo detector in Europe, this was the best ever localized gravitational wave source."

J-GEM (Japanese collaboration of Gravitational wave Electro-Magnetic follow-up) is a research project to search for optical counterparts of gravitational wave sources because optical observations give us different information than gravitational wave observations. Indeed multi-messenger astronomy, observing the same phenomenon with both gravitational waves and normal light, is needed to paint the full picture of the phenomenon.

Neutron star mergers are expected to have strong optical and infrared light emissions, so J-GEM sprang in to action. Using a network of telescopes around the world, including the Subaru Telescope in Hawai`i and the 1.4-m IRSF telescope in South Africa (run by Nagoya University and Kagoshima University), they observed the source located 130 million light-years away in the constellation Hydra, trying to discern its true nature. As they watched the object change day by day, they realized that they were observing the first ever confirmed kilonova.

Astronomers have long searched for sites in the Universe where the heavy elements were produced by rapid neutron capture (r-process) reactions. One possible candidate was kilonova explosions which are predicted to produce 10,000 times the mass of the Earth in rare earth elements and precious metals.

The time evolution of the color and brightness of the object at the origin of the gravitational waves were too rapid to be a supernova, but matched the simulations of a kilonova made by the ATERUI supercomputer at the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan.

"We were so excited to see the rapid brightness evolution revealed day by day through observations at facilities operated by Japanese institutes distributed all over the world." said Yousuke Utsumi (Hiroshima University), a scientist in the J-GEM collaboration.

National Institutes of Natural Sciences

Related Gravitational Waves Articles:

Gravitational waves could prove the existence of the quark-gluon plasma
According to modern particle physics, matter produced when neutron stars merge is so dense that it could exist in a state of dissolved elementary particles.
X-rays and gravitational waves will combine to illuminate massive black hole collisions
A new study by a group of researchers at the University of Birmingham has found that collisions of supermassive black holes may be simultaneously observable in both gravitational waves and X-rays at the beginning of the next decade.
Quantum expander for gravitational-wave observatories
Gravitational-wave detectors use ultra-stable laser light stored in optical cavities to achieve the high sensitivity for detecting gravitational-wave signals from merging binary black holes and neutron stars.
Gravitational lensing provides a new measurement of the expansion of the universe
Amid ongoing uncertainty around the value of the Hubble Constant, uncertainty largely created by issues around measuring distances to objects in the galaxy, scientists who used a new distance technique have derived a different Hubble value, one 'somewhat higher than the standard value,' as Tamara Davis describes it in a related Perspective.
Gravitational waves leave a detectable mark, physicists say
New research shows that gravitational waves leave behind plenty of 'memories' that could help detect them even after they've passed.
DIY gravitational waves with 'BlackHoles@Home'
Researchers hoping to better interpret data from the detection of gravitational waves generated by the collision of binary black holes are turning to the public for help.
Gravitational waves will settle cosmic conundrum
Measurements of gravitational waves from approximately 50 binary neutron stars over the next decade will definitively resolve an intense debate about how quickly our universe is expanding, according to findings from an international team that includes University College London (UCL) and Flatiron Institute cosmologists.
LIGO and Virgo announce four new gravitational-wave detections
The LIGO and Virgo collaborations have now confidently detected gravitational waves from a total of 10 stellar-mass binary black hole mergers and one merger of neutron stars, which are the dense, spherical remains of stellar explosions.
Gravitational waves from a merged hyper-massive neutron star
For the first time astronomers have detected gravitational waves from a merged, hyper-massive neutron star.
Gravitational waves could shed light on dark matter
Black holes colliding, gravitational waves riding through space-time - and a huge instrument that allows scientists to investigate the fabric of the universe.
More Gravitational Waves News and Gravitational Waves Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Making Amends
What makes a true apology? What does it mean to make amends for past mistakes? This hour, TED speakers explore how repairing the wrongs of the past is the first step toward healing for the future. Guests include historian and preservationist Brent Leggs, law professor Martha Minow, librarian Dawn Wacek, and playwright V (formerly Eve Ensler).
Now Playing: Science for the People

#565 The Great Wide Indoors
We're all spending a bit more time indoors this summer than we probably figured. But did you ever stop to think about why the places we live and work as designed the way they are? And how they could be designed better? We're talking with Emily Anthes about her new book "The Great Indoors: The Surprising Science of how Buildings Shape our Behavior, Health and Happiness".
Now Playing: Radiolab

The Third. A TED Talk.
Jad gives a TED talk about his life as a journalist and how Radiolab has evolved over the years. Here's how TED described it:How do you end a story? Host of Radiolab Jad Abumrad tells how his search for an answer led him home to the mountains of Tennessee, where he met an unexpected teacher: Dolly Parton.Jad Nicholas Abumrad is a Lebanese-American radio host, composer and producer. He is the founder of the syndicated public radio program Radiolab, which is broadcast on over 600 radio stations nationwide and is downloaded more than 120 million times a year as a podcast. He also created More Perfect, a podcast that tells the stories behind the Supreme Court's most famous decisions. And most recently, Dolly Parton's America, a nine-episode podcast exploring the life and times of the iconic country music star. Abumrad has received three Peabody Awards and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2011.