New era of gravitational wave astronomy

For the first time ever, astronomers have observed both gravitational waves and light (electromagnetic radiation) from the same event thanks to a global collaborative effort and a quick reaction time from observatories around the world, including notably the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO’s) facilities in Chile and the participation of scientists of the Astrophysics Research Institute (ARI) based at Liverpool John Moores University.

These ground-breaking observations suggest that this unique object is the result of a merger of two neutron stars. This discovery, published in several papers in the journals Nature, Science and elsewhere, also provides the strongest evidence yet that short duration gamma-ray bursts are caused by mergers of neutron stars. The explosion that ensues scatters elements such as gold and platinum into space.