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Author Topic: What might an image of merging neutron stars look like?  (Read 387 times)

Telecaster

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What might an image of merging neutron stars look like?
« on: October 12, 2017, 02:03:02 AM »

If the (now pretty loud) whispering I’ve been hearing over the past six weeks is any indication, we’re about to find out. The ESO (European Southern Observatory) has a press conference scheduled for next Monday regarding an “unprecedented discovery” of a never-before-observed astronomical phenomenon. Maybe a bit hyperbolic but cool stuff nonetheless.

What makes this particularly interesting is that it likely involves not just a gravitational wave detection by LIGO (and also Virgo, LIGO’s new European counterpart!) but also an accompanying photon detection by multiple telescopes. Hubble for one is known to have interrupted its schedule for an observation in the same region where just shortly beforehand LIGO and Virgo reportedly pinpointed a gravitational wave event. (With Virgo now online we can triangulate GW locations with really good accuracy.)

The other cool part of course is that LIGO, beefed up since its initial GW detections, can now “see” merging neutron stars. This merger all but surely involves the remnants of a binary star pair, both of which went supernova some time ago. Interesting data about neutron stars oughta come out of this. For one thing: confirmation that they actually exist.  :)

https://www.eso.org/public/announcements/ann17071/

Some background info in this 1998 paper : https://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/9807272

“…the (neutron star) mergers are likely to be accompanied with prominent optical transients…”

-Dave-
« Last Edit: October 12, 2017, 02:18:41 AM by Telecaster »
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Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: What might an image of merging neutron stars look like?
« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2017, 09:34:44 AM »

Sounds intriguing, Dave.
I hope you'll get your camera out and show us the results.  ;)

Eric
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-Eric Myrvaagnes    (A sampler of my new book is on my website.)
http://myrvaagnes.com  Visit my photo website (Server is back up). New images each season. Also visit my new website: http://ericneedsakidney.org

Telecaster

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Re: What might an image of merging neutron stars look like?
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2017, 03:16:45 PM »

Eric, ‘fraid I missed this one by a few months. But I’ve got my 100–400mm fitted with a UV-pass filter just in case I get tipped off on the next one!  ;D  (A new colleague of my friend K has connections…)

-Dave-
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Telecaster

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Re: What might an image of merging neutron stars look like?
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2017, 05:30:47 PM »

For the astrophysics geeks amongst us: the LIGO Virgo YouTube channel will be livestreaming this coming Monday’s ESO press conference, starting at 10am EDT (in the USA). There’s a link to the livestream at LIGO Virgo’s YT home page.

-Dave-
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TommyWeir

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Re: What might an image of merging neutron stars look like?
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2017, 07:49:30 AM »

I had the privilege of spending nearly a week at Paranal, at the ESO observatory in the Atacama desert in Chile.  Some fine folks doing extraordinary work in an amazing location. 

And big fans of photography too -  https://www.flickr.com/people/esoastronomy/

Telecaster

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Re: What might an image of merging neutron stars look like?
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2017, 03:35:28 PM »

Tommy, thanks for posting the Flickr link. Paranal must’ve been quite something! Having visited your website, I’m guessing you were filming there. As a lover of deserts in general, the Atacama is a place I’d be thrilled to spend time in. Just gotta convince someone I know to get a job there & then invite me.  :D

-Dave-
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TommyWeir

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Re: What might an image of merging neutron stars look like?
« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2017, 09:52:18 AM »

Yes Dave, did a film on their discovery of the super massive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way.   An amazing place.

Telecaster

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Re: What might an image of merging neutron stars look like?
« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2017, 10:44:07 AM »

Merging neutron stars it is! Detected on August 17, not only by LIGO and (*weakly) Virgo in the form of gravitational waves but also by the Fermi Gamma Ray telescope, and then looked at by a whole bunch of scopes across the electromagnetic (that is, light) spectrum. This was a strong GW signal, ringing the LIGO detectors for more than 90 seconds. The optical signals lasted for up to weeks depending on the wavelengths involved. The merged stars are ~130 million light years away.

A brief piece here: https://www.symmetrymagazine.org/article/scientists-observe-first-verified-neutron-star-collision

A more in-depth piece here: https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/technology/science/ligo-gravity-waves-neutron-star-collision/article36597830

And details from LIGO: https://dcc.ligo.org/LIGO-P1700294/public

-Dave-

*the merger happened in one of Virgo’s relative blind spots, thus the signal it saw was weak
« Last Edit: October 16, 2017, 11:12:56 AM by Telecaster »
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Telecaster

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Re: What might an image of merging neutron stars look like?
« Reply #8 on: October 16, 2017, 11:58:31 AM »

What Hubble saw in galaxy NGC 4993, where the neutron star merger happened:

https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/thumbnails/image/hubblensmerger500.gif

Also, to partially correct what I wrote above regarding how long this merger was detectable via light: in the radio spectrum it continues to get brighter.

-Dave-
« Last Edit: October 16, 2017, 12:23:28 PM by Telecaster »
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Telecaster

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Re: What might an image of merging neutron stars look like?
« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2017, 03:53:39 PM »

Another article, the best overall summation I’ve read so far: http://www.astronomy.com/news/2017/10/ligo-detects-a-neutron-star-merger

-Dave-
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Chris Kern

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Re: What might an image of merging neutron stars look like?
« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2017, 07:09:02 PM »

Another article, the best overall summation I’ve read so far: http://www.astronomy.com/news/2017/10/ligo-detects-a-neutron-star-merger

The U.S. National Science Foundation held a press event this morning in Washington to formally announce these findings.  I was alerted to it by a cousin, who is a retired physicist, and watched it live.  It's long, but I thought the presenters did a great job of explaining their findings to non-scientists like me.  You can watch the replay here.

Telecaster

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Re: What might an image of merging neutron stars look like?
« Reply #11 on: Today at 01:21:44 AM »

The U.S. National Science Foundation held a press event this morning in Washington to formally announce these findings.  I was alerted to it by a cousin, who is a retired physicist, and watched it live.  It's long, but I thought the presenters did a great job of explaining their findings to non-scientists like me.  You can watch the replay here.

Yep, that’s the one I watched. Lotsa info, presented succinctly.

A former LIGO-er, part of the small crew on duty when LIGO first detected gravitational waves a couple years ago, made a comic about this latest detection.

Dance Like No One Is Watching: http://antimatterwebcomics.com/comic/gw170817/:D

The guy in the comic shsshing with his finger and then putting hand over face after the Hubble folks kinda spilled the beans is David Shoemaker, LIGO’s current spokesperson. The guy in the blue sweater is Rai Weiss, co-winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in physics for conceiving of and designing LIGO.

-Dave-
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