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Kilonovae, short gamma-ray bursts & neutron star mergers

This Collection of research and comment from Nature Research focuses on the electromagnetic counterparts to the gravitational wave event GW 170817 from the merger of two neutron stars. LIGO’s first three gravitational wave detections, and LIGO-Virgo’s first, all originated from mergers of black holes. These momentous black-hole clashes produced gravitational waves that were audible to LIGO-Virgo but there was nothing to see. But a neutron star merger is different. Following GW 170817, a short gamma ray burst and kilonova occurred, releasing photons across a wide electromagnetic spectrum: from radio waves to infrared to visible to X-rays to gamma rays. The Research papers published in Nature and Nature Astronomy cover some of these counterpart signals. Welcome to the era of gravitational wave astrophysics.


Related Collections: 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics, Gravitational Waves


News and comment

The discovery of gravitational waves from a neutron-star merger and the detection of the event across the electromagnetic spectrum give insight into many aspects of gravity and astrophysics. See Letter p.64, p.67, p.71, p.75 & p.80

News & Views | | Nature

The detection of a gravitational wave was a historic event that heralded a new phase of astronomy. A numerical model of the Universe now allows researchers to tell the story of the black-hole system that caused the wave. See Letter p.512

News & Views | | Nature

Discovering gravitational waves would not only validate Einstein's theory of gravitation but also reveal aspects of the Universe's earliest moments. The hunt for these elusive ripples is now well under way.

News & Views | | Nature

The first detection of electromagnetic emission from a gravitational wave source bridges the gap between one of the most energetic phenomena in the Universe and their dark, difficult to detect progenitors.

News & Views | | Nature Astronomy

Kilonovae and short gamma-ray bursts

Detection of X-ray emission at a location coincident with the kilonova transient of the gravitational-wave event GW170817 provides the missing observational link between short gamma-ray bursts and gravitational waves from neutron-star mergers.

Letter | | Nature

LIGO and fundamental physics

The astronomical event GW170817, detected in gravitational and electromagnetic waves, is used to determine the expansion rate of the Universe, which is consistent with and independent of existing measurements.

Letter | | Nature

A stochastic background of gravitational waves is expected to arise from a superposition of a large number of unresolved gravitational-wave sources and should carry unique signatures from the earliest epochs of the Universe. Limits on the amplitude of the stochastic gravitational-wave background are now reported using the data from a two-year science run of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory. These limits rule out certain models of early Universe evolution.

Letter | | Nature

Black holes present a profound challenge to our current foundations of physics, and an exciting era of astronomy is just opening in which gravitational-wave observation and very-long-baseline interferometry may provide important hints about the new principles of physics needed.

Comment | | Nature Astronomy