Events

November 2, 2017 at 8:00 pm

Physics Colloquium | A Golden Neutron Star Merger, Nov. 17

Dr. Ryan Chornock. Photo by Rob Hardin

Dr. Ryan Chornock. Photo by Rob Hardin

The Physics & Astronomy Colloquium Series presents Ryan Chornock, of Ohio University,  on “A Golden Neutron Star Merger” on Friday, Nov. 17, at 4:10 p.m. in Walter 245.

Abstract: On August 17, a binary neutron star merger was detected by the Advanced LIGO/Virgo gravitational wave observatories.  The detection of an optical counterpart by several collaborations, including by my team using DECam, 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 conclusive evidence that binary neutron star mergers can produce relativistic jets, and hence short duration gamma-ray bursts. I will focus on the evidence 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. I will conclude by looking towards the future and the possibilities for using similar future events to independently measure the expansion rate of the universe.

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