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GW170817: Astronomy’s First Talkie

Date:  Thursday, November 30th, 2017

Speaker: Ben Farr, UO Physics


On August 25, 2017, after collecting 117 days of simultaneous two-detector observing time, the LIGO observatories ended their second observing run (O2).  Having started on November 30, 2016, O2 had progressed relatively uneventfully for 260 calendar days. That is, until August 17, 2017, when LIGO detected its first binary neutron star merger, GW170817. Beyond being LIGO’s first binary neutron star detection, and its longest and loudest detection so far, it was also detected by telescopes across the entire electromagnetic spectrum, emphatically kicking off the era of multi-messenger astronomy using gravitational waves.  With more than 70 ground- and space-based observatories joining in the discovery, GW170817 quickly became one of the most observed transients in the history of astronomy.  I will discuss some of what GW170817 and its EM counterpart, particularly its kilonova signature, has taught us (so far) about neutron star collisions, the expansion of the universe, and fundamental physics.

Host:  Ray Frey

Time: 4:00-5:00pm
Location: 100 Willamette Hall
Reception from 3:40-3:55 Willamette Hall Paul Olum Atrium

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