Astronomy Colloquium for 2017-10-25

Series: Astronomy Colloquium
Date: Wednesday 25-Oct-2017
Time: 16:05-17:00 (4:05-5:00 pm)
Location: ATL 2400
Speaker: Dr. Ryan Foley (UC Santa Cruz)
Title: Discovery of the First Electromagnetic Counterpart to a Gravitational Wave Source

Two months ago, on August 17, LIGO and Virgo made the first detection of a binary neutron star merger, GW170817. Two seconds later, an associated gamma-ray burst was detected by Fermi and INTEGRAL, GRB 170817A. Soon after sunset in Chile, my team, One-Meter, Two-Hemisphere (1M2H), used the 1-m Swope telescope at Las Campanas Observatory to discover the optical counterpart, Swope Supernova Survey 2017a (SSS17a). In this talk, I will tell the tale of this discovery. I will also describe our observations taken over the next several weeks. With our electromagnetic data alone, we are able to independently and definitively say that GW170817 came from the merger of a binary neutron star system. These data show that a significant amount of r-process material was generated and ejected in the merger -- a so-called ‘kilonova’ -- providing enough material to solve the question of where the majority of r-process elements are created. Examining the host galaxy, we find that the progenitor system was likely several Gyr old. This data-rich event is just the beginning. GW170817 and SSS17a herald the beginning of a new era of astronomy.

Colloquia are usually preceded by espresso and ice cream at 1:45 pm outside room PSC 1150 and are followed by an informal reception at 5:15 pm in that room. Anyone interested in talking with the speaker, or being added to the colloquium announcement email list, should contact the colloquium organizer. Lunch will normally be reserved for the speaker to talk to graduate students.

Colloquium Organizer: Prof. L. Drake Deming


Special accommodations for individuals with disabilities can be made by calling (301) 405-3001. It would be appreciated if we are notified at least one week in advance.


Directions and information about parking can be found here.

This page was automatically generated on: 19-Oct-2017.