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Volume 551 Issue 7678, 2 November 2017

The cover image depicts an artist’s impression of the merger of two neutron stars, giving rise to a low-luminosity transient object called a kilonova. Just such an event was observed on 17 August 2017 by the Advanced LIGO and Virgo detectors, initially in the form of gravitational waves. Importantly, this event, called GW170817, was accompanied by strong electromagnetic signals that were observed by a number of facilities. As a result, a significant amount of information has been gathered about the resultant gamma-ray burst, and six papers and a News & Views in this issue examine the details of the kilonova. Optical and near-infrared emissions from the event are reported in three papers by Iair Arcavi and his colleagues, Elena Pian and her team, and Stephen Smartt and his colleagues, affirming that GW170817 was indeed a kilonova. Eleonora Troja and her colleagues report on X-ray emissions from the merger, which indicate that the ejecta jet from GW170817 was seen somewhat off axis. In a fifth paper, Daniel Kasen and his collaborators examine the production of heavy elements in the kilonova event, using the latest observations to help constrain their predictions; they suggest that neutron-star mergers provide most of the heavy elements in the Universe. And Daniel Holz along with teams at multiple observatories managed to use the kilonova to independently re-calibrate the Hubble constant, getting a result that is consistent with other determinations. Cover image: Aurore Simonnet


  • Editorial |

    Scientists have written another chapter in the curious case of the composer’s heart. But it is unlikely to be the end of the story.

  • Editorial |

    A look at what we have published highlights the variety of editorial judgements in selecting and assessing papers.

World View

Seven Days


News Feature


  • Comment |

    Thomas R. Insel's biggest lesson from his shift from NIMH director to Silicon Valley entrepreneur: academic and technology company researchers should partner up.

    • Thomas R. Insel

Books & Arts


News & Views

  • News & Views |

    What came first: oxygen-producing photosynthesis, or compounds that protect cells from oxygen-induced damage? It emerges that one such compound might have been produced in microbes before Earth's oxygenation.

    • Mark W. Ruszczycky
    • Hung-wen Liu
  • News & Views |

    Removing the protein complex cohesin from chromosomes destroys one layer of the genome's 3D structure but leaves another intact. Genome structure is therefore built by independent processes that work together. See Letter p.51

    • Rachel Patton McCord
  • News & Views |

    In nuclear fusion, energy is produced by the rearrangement of protons and neutrons. The discovery of an analogue of this process involving particles called quarks has implications for both nuclear and particle physics. See Letter p.89

    • Gerald A. Miller
  • News & Views |

    Schwann cells support neuronal signalling. The discovery that these cells become dramatically reprogrammed after nerve injury, adopting migratory characteristics that promote repair, highlights the plasticity of mature cell types.

    • Robert H. Miller
  • News & Views |

    Ecological interactions emerge spontaneously in an experimental study of bacterial populations cultured for 60,000 generations, and sustain rapid evolution by natural selection. See Letter p.45

    • Joshua B. Plotkin


  • Article |

    Using data from sixty thousand generations of the E. coli long-term evolution experiment, the authors shed new light on the processes that govern molecular evolution.

    • Benjamin H. Good
    • Michael J. McDonald
    • Michael M. Desai
  • Article |

    Depletion of chromosome-associated cohesin leads to loss of topologically associating domains in interphase chromosomes, without affecting segregation into compartments, and instead, it unmasks a finer compartment structure that reflects local chromatin and transcriptional activity.

    • Wibke Schwarzer
    • Nezar Abdennur
    • Francois Spitz


  • Article |

    Single-particle cryo-electron microscopy is used to resolve the structure of the phycobilisome, a 16.8-megadalton light-harvesting megacomplex, from the red alga Griffithsia pacifica at a resolution of 3.5 Å.

    • Jun Zhang
    • Jianfei Ma
    • Sen-Fang Sui



  • Feature |

    Scientists lured by big-prize competitions should weigh contests' aims and non-monetary benefits before entering.

    • Virginia Gewin


Brief Communications Arising

Nature Index

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