Three scientists from the (DIAS) School of Cosmic Physics have taken part in the discovery of gravitational waves from the merging of two neutron stars, it was announced today
Professor Felix Aharonian, Professor Luke Drury and Dr Carlo Romoli are part of a worldwide team of over 3,500 scientists who today announce their findings.
Commenting on the discovery, Professor Luke Drury today said: “For the first time we have seen a gravitational wave signal from the merging of two neutron stars and the subsequent gamma-ray burst explosion.
“This is truly an exciting discovery, and along with my DIAS School of Cosmic Physics colleagues, we are delighted to have taken part in it.
“Following last year’s detection of the merging black holes by LIGO, which has just been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics 2017, this result marks the beginning of a totally new era in gravitational wave astronomy, and in my opinion, deserves a second Nobel Prize”
Neutron stars are both the smallest and the densest stars known to exist, with one teaspoon of its material weighing six billion tonnes. The cosmic event detected on 17th August 2017 was the space-time rippling resulting from the merging of two of these extremely dense, compact objects. It was immediately followed by a burst of gamma-rays detected by two space observatories, NASA’s Fermi satellite and ESA’s Integral satellite.
Follow-up observations by a large number of ground-based telescopes have confirmed the fading after-glow typical of a gamma-ray burst. DIAS is a member of the H.E.S.S. (High Energy Stereoscopic System) consortium operating a system of high-energy gamma-ray telescopes in Namibia which participated in the follow-up campaign and was able to put limits on the high-energy emission from the event.
Further information about H.E.S.S. is available at:
To mark this scientific breakthrough the DIAS School of Theoretical Physics will host a public lecture on Friday 15th December by one of the leading experts in the numerical simulations of merging neutron stars, from the Institute for Theoretical Physics of the University of Frankfurt. Details about the public lecture will be posted on the DIAS website in due course:
William Rowan Hamilton
Today’s announcement coincides with ‘Hamilton Day’, which marks the anniversary of the groundbreaking discovery of quaternion algebra by Ireland’s most famous scientist, William Rowan Hamilton.
On 16th October 1843, William Rowan Hamilton was struck by a sudden flash of inspiration as he walked past Broome Bridge in Cabra on his way into town from Dunsink Observatory. Hamilton’s discovery of quaternions in that sudden flash of inspiration is remembered as a turning point in the history of mathematics.
An annual event now celebrated in a re-enactment of the ‘Hamilton walk’ by mathematicians from all over the world.