Neutron star and black hole binary mergers: the first results of the LIGO-Virgo era

May Specialist Discussion Meeting (A)
Start Date
End Date

Image credit: Watson, Price, Rosswog, ESO, LIGO

A Royal Astronomical Society Specialist Discussion Meeting organised by *Darach Watson (Neils Bohr Inst. Copenhagen);Paul O Brien (Leicester);Stephen Smartt (QUB)


In 2015 the first gravitational wave detection was made, from a binary pair of black holes. August 2017 gave us the first gravitational wave neutron star merger, GW170817. These mergers have begun to revolutionize our understanding of compact remnants and their mergers. In particular, the identification of the electromagnetic counterpart opens up new scientific possibilities, including constraining alternative gravity, an independent way to measure the Hubble constant, and the masses and radii of neutron stars. GW170817’s radioactive ‘kilonova’ (AT2017gfo) was bright enough to allow detailed lightcurves and spectral series to be obtained for the first time. These data will allow us to pin down where the r-process creates the heaviest elements and to begin to understand the merger process and the neutron star material itself. With sensitivity upgrades to all three detectors, the expectation for the LIGO/Virgo observing run starting in early 2019 is for multiple events per month. The flurry of results from AT2017gfo, still emerging, and the tremendous activity of the O3 run will make this specialist discussion meeting exhilarating, focusing on the interpretation of GW170817/AT2017gfo, the results of the first two runs, and the exciting prospect of new results in Spring 2019.

Confirmed speakers
Jennifer Barnes
Andrew Levan
Samaya Nissanke
Albino Perego



Admission to Specialist Discussion Meetings is free for RAS Fellows, £15 for non-fellows (£5 for students), cash or cheque only, collected at the registration desk.  Admission to the subsequent Open (Monthly A&G) Meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society is open to all, at no charge.

Venue Address

The Geological Society,Burlington House,LONDON


51.5087877, -0.13876359999995