Jul 5 – 10, 2021
Europe/Rome timezone


Electromagnetic Counterparts of Compact Binary Mergers

Jul 5, 2021, 4:30 PM


Electromagnetic Counterparts of Compact Binary Mergers: Block 1

  • Paz Beniamini (Caltech)
  • Jonathan Granot (The Open University of Israel)


Electromagnetic (EM) counterparts of merging compact binaries containing neutron stars (two neutron stars or a neutron star and a black hole) can arise from different components of the merger ejecta. Examples include the prompt gamma-ray signal associated with emission from the relativistic jet or cocoon, the multi-wavelength afterglow associated with the interaction of the jet with the surrounding medium, the kilonova resulting from the r-process heated ejecta and the kilonova afterglow arising from the interaction of the latter ejecta with its environment. The first detection of a gravitational wave signal from a binary neutron star merger, GW 170817, has vividly confirmed three of these predicted EM counterparts, as its violent burst of gravitational waves was accompanied by the short GRB 170817A, a spectacular kilonova and a long-lived afterglow. This triple association has already significantly boosted our understanding of each of those components individually and helps us construct a more comprehensive picture of compact binary mergers in an astrophysical context. Furthermore, it has even enabled us to put significant constraints on topics of broad interest in physics from the neutron star equation of state to the expansion rate of the Universe. It is an exceptional demonstration of the power of multi-messenger astrophysics. Future compact binary mergers detected in gravitational waves and / or EM counterparts and further observations of the (still detectable) EM counterparts of GW 170817, therefore hold great promise to boost our understanding further. This session aims to explore the lessons learned from the observed counterparts and to prepare the community for future detections.

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