TitleIlluminating gravitational waves: A concordant picture of photons from a neutron star merger
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsKasliwal, MM, Nakar, E, Singer, LP, Kaplan, DL, Cook, DO ., Van Sistine, A, Lau, RM, Fremling, C, etal,
JournalScience
Volume358
Issue6370
Pagination1559-1565
Date Published12/2017
Abstract

Merging neutron stars offer an excellent laboratory for simultaneously studying strong-field gravity and matter in extreme environments. We establish the physical association of an electromagnetic counterpart (EM170817) with gravitational waves (GW170817) detected from merging neutron stars. By synthesizing a panchromatic data set, we demonstrate that merging neutron stars are a long-sought production site forging heavy elements by r-process nucleosynthesis. The weak gamma rays seen in EM170817 are dissimilar to classical short gamma-ray bursts with ultrarelativistic jets. Instead, we suggest that breakout of a wide-angle, mildly relativistic cocoon engulfing the jet explains the low-luminosity gamma rays, the high-luminosity ultraviolet-optical-infrared, and the delayed radio and x-ray emission. We posit that all neutron star mergers may lead to a wide-angle cocoon breakout, sometimes accompanied by a successful jet and sometimes by a choked jet.

URLhttp://science.sciencemag.org/content/358/6370/1559
DOI10.1126/science.aap9455