29 November 2018

KVANT article - Formation of heavy elements in kilonovas

KVANT article - Formation of heavy elements in kilonovae

In an article published in the Danish Physics Magazine KVANT, Jonatan Selsing (Postdoc, DAWN) presents the discoveries following last year’s observation of a kilonova.

Due to a combination of triangulation of a gravitational wave signal detected by the LIGO/Virgo-collaboration the 17th of August 2017, and the space telescope Fermi detecting a 1.6 s delayed short gamma ray burst, physicists were, for the first time ever given the opportunity to investigate the optical electromagnetic signal from two neutron stars colliding.

When the source of the gravitational waves was found 10,9 hours after the first signal was detected, it gave researchers a unique opportunity to analyse theories of how heavy elements, like gold, form by r-neutron capture processes.

Additionally, the almost simultaneous detection of the gravitational waves and the short gamma ray burst confirms that at least some of the short gamma ray bursts stem from kilonovae.

The detection also allowed researchers to use new theories of measuring distance to the host galaxy of the kilonova, based on the relation between redshift and the relation between the period and the amplitude of the gravitational wave.

The measurement of distance is paramount in determining the size, age and evolution of the universe.