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2/1/2018: SO/NOAO Joint Colloquium Series: Ryan Chornock, Ohio Univ.


Title: GW170817: A Golden Neutron Star Merger

On August 17th of last year, the Advanced LIGO/VIRGO gravitational wave observatories detected their first binary neutron star merger. The discovery of an associated electromagnetic counterpart has been a milestone event in astronomy because it definitively answers several outstanding questions. I will discuss some of the astrophysical implications that result from making this connection and what we can learn about the merger process by studying the electromagnetic source. We now have direct evidence that binary neutron star mergers can produce relativistic jets, and hence short duration gamma-ray bursts. I will particularly focus on the evidence from near-infrared observations that the "kilonova" associated with the merger was a major site of the r-process nucleosynthesis that produces many of the heavy elements in the universe, including gold, platinum, and uranium.

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