Illuminating gravitational waves: A concordant picture of photons from a neutron star merger
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Merging neutron stars offer an excellent laboratory for simultaneously studying strong-field gravity and matter in extreme environments. We establish the physical association of an electromagnetic counterpart (EM170817) with gravitational waves (GW170817) detected from merging neutron stars. By synthesizing a panchromatic data set, we demonstrate that merging neutron stars are a long-sought production site forging heavy elements by r-process nucleosynthesis. The weak gamma rays seen in EM170817 are dissimilar to classical short gamma-ray bursts with ultrarelativistic jets. Instead, we suggest that breakout of a wide-angle, mildly relativistic cocoon engulfing the jet explains the low-luminosity gamma rays, the high-luminosity ultraviolet-optical-infrared, and the delayed radio and x-ray emission. We posit that all neutron star mergers may lead to a wide-angle cocoon breakout, sometimes accompanied by a successful jet and sometimes by a choked jet.
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Migliari, S.; Miller-Jones, James; Russell, D. (2011)We investigate the role of the compact object in the production of jets from neutron star X-ray binaries. The goal is to quantify the effect of the neutron star spin, if any, in powering the jet. We compile all the available ...
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The Electromagnetic Counterpart of the Binary Neutron Star Merger LIGO/Virgo GW170817. III. Optical and UV Spectra of a Blue Kilonova from Fast Polar EjectaNicholl, M.; Berger, E.; Kasen, D.; Metzger, B.; Elias, J.; Briceño, C.; Alexander, K.; Blanchard, P.; Chornock, R.; Cowperthwaite, P.; Eftekhari, T.; Fong, W.; Margutti, R.; Villar, V.; Williams, P.; Brown, W.; Annis, J.; Bahramian, Arash; Brout, D.; Brown, D.; Chen, H.; Clemens, J.; Dennihy, E.; Dunlap, B.; Holz, D.; Marchesini, E.; Massaro, F.; Moskowitz, N.; Pelisoli, I.; Rest, A.; Ricci, F.; Sako, M.; Soares-Santos, M.; Strader, J. (2017)We present optical and ultraviolet spectra of the first electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational-wave (GW) source, the binary neutron star merger GW170817. Spectra were obtained nightly between 1.5 and 9.5 days ...