Seeing and Hearing the Universe at the Same Time
Earlier this year, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the detection of merging black holes by gravitational waves. Although this was an amazing triumph, black hole mergers do not emit light and are therefore invisible to telescopes. Neutron star mergers, however, have long been expected to produce both light and gravitational waves, so the detection of these events has been eagerly anticipated. Following the first ever detected gravitational waves from neutron stars on August 17, 2017, our team at the Carnegie Observatories, in collaboration with UC Santa Cruz, were the first to discover the optical counterpart. I will describe this incredible discovery, the data that was taken over the following weeks, and the implication for the origin of gold and other heavy elements in our Universe.
Dr. Anthony Piro is a Staff Member at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena. His research is focused on theoretical astrophysics with a broad interest in topics involving compact objects, astrophysical explosions, accretion flows, and stellar dynamics. His recent awards include being named a Scialog Fellow by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement, and he is the Principle Investigator of the Swope Supernova Survey, which was awarded over 200 nights a year to use the 1 meter Swope Telescope to follow supernovae, gravitational wave counterparts, and other explosive transients.
"What's Up?" in this month will be presented by John Garrett