I have no doubt that, long before you came across this little blog post, you heard the big announcement this morning. The Advanced LIGO and VIRGO interferometers have announced the first direct detection of gravitational waves from the inspiral and merger of a binary system containing neutron stars! But this event is about so much more than just the gravitational wave detection. The presence of a neutron star in the binary opens up the possibility of there being an associated electromagnetic counterpart that can be observed with more traditional telescopes. Amazingly enough, that is exactly what we saw. A mere 2 seconds after the initial LIGO detection, the gamma-ray satellite Fermi saw a burst of gamma-ray emission. Just 12 hours later, a global effort to find an optical (visible) counterpart was successful and the field of joint gravitational wave and electromagnetic astronomy was born.

I hope find the time to write about this monumental event in more detail sometime in the future, but for now you can find everything related to our groups work, including complete drafts of papers, here:

kilonova.org

DES-GW Papers