Media contacts

Dr. Benjamin Knispel
Press Officer AEI Hannover
Phone:+49 511 762-19104Fax:+49 511 762-17182
Dr. Elke Müller
Press Officer AEI Potsdam
Phone:+49 331 567-7303Fax:+49 331 567-7298

Science contacts

Prof. Dr. Bruce Allen
Phone:+49 511 762-17148Fax:+49 511 762-17182

Homepage of Bruce Allen

Prof. Dr. Alessandra Buonanno
Phone:+49 331 567 7220Fax:+49 331 567 7298

Homepage of Alessandra Buonanno

Prof. Dr. Karsten Danzmann
Phone:+49 511 762-2356Fax:+49 511 762-5861

Homepage of Karsten Danzmann

GW170817 media

GW170817: Numerical relativity simulation of a binary neutron star merger

Simulation of the first cosmic event observed in both gravitational waves and light

Further information

The LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo Collaboration
GW170817: Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Neutron Star Inspiral

Neutron star merger

Researchers' voices

Dr. Christoph Affeldt: “The first direct observations of gravitational waves from merging black holes were examples of what humanity can achieve when many collaborate across borders. This new, probably even more groundbreaking discovery was achieved by an even larger group. I think of this not only as an important hour for astronomy, but as another example of emphasizing the importance of team work in our world that is getting ever more complex.”

Miriam Cabero Müller: “The combination of gravitational-wave and electromagnetic astronomy is a big step for understanding the universe. Not only we gain insight in the formation of gamma-ray bursts and kilonova processes, but we can also start learning more about matter in such a compact form as a neutron star. These are very exciting discoveries for the field and I can't wait to see what else the future will bring!”

Dr. Tim Dietrich: “I did not expect that we would detect a gravitational wave signal from merging neutron stars within the next few years, so I have made a bet with a colleague that no neutron star binary will be detected during LIGO's second observing run, which ended eight days after GW170817. I have lost by just one week, but I was never happier about a lost bet. The combined measurement of a gravitational wave signal, a gamma ray burst, and a kilonovae is a generous gift from Nature, I am glad that my pessimistic expectations have been proven wrong.”

Dr. Ian Harry: “It's amazing to finally observe the merger of two neutron stars. We never dared hope that our first neutron star merger would be as loud as this! For us to also see a coincident gamma-ray burst and to observe the source in a variety of electromagnetic wavelengths is truly a remarkable discovery. I'm honoured to be a part of it!”

Benjamin Lackey: “Three hours before the first binary neutron star merger (GW170817) was detected, I was at a conference listening to people say we might never see enough events to provide useful insight. When I got off the plane in Berlin several hours later, I saw an email about the first detection in conjunction with a gamma ray burst, and we soon knew that we might eventually see hundreds. Science often feels like it moves slowly, but occasionally an entire field can change in a day.”

Prof. Dr. Harald Pfeiffer: “This is an exceptional discovery in so many ways:  The first discovery of gravitational waves from neutron stars.  The confirmation of the origin of gamma-ray bursts.  The first identification of the source of gravitational waves by traditional electromagnetic telescopes and satellites.  Continued observation and analysis of this event will yield new insights into compact objects and their behaviour for many years to come.”

Dr. Michael Pürrer: “We prepared for a long time to have fast and accurate models of the gravitational waveform emitted by low mass compact binaries for which the signal can be hundreds of seconds long. These models are crucial for detecting gravitational wave signals and extracting their parameters such as masses, spins, and how deformable neutron stars are on a short timescale. I had expected that we would eventually find a system containing a neutron star, but I was very surprised by such a loud and clear signal! The detection of an electromagnetic counterpart to the gravitational wave signal is monumental!”

Dr. Vivien Raymond: “Even though I away from the office when this very special signal reached Earth, I got drawn instantly into the worldwide excitement with the thousands of scientists feverishly working to understand this object far away. This will remain one of the most exciting time of my (scientific) life…”

Apl. Prof. Dr. Benno Willke: “It makes me very proud that the lasers we build and installed in the Advanced LIGO detectors enabled yet another great discovery. It is wonderful that the Albert Einstein Institute and the Laserzentrum Hannover play such an important role in this ground-breaking epoch of astronomy.”

Dr. Sylvia Zhu: “My expertise is in the high-energy emission of gamma-ray bursts detected by Fermi-GBM and Fermi-LAT, and searches for continuous gravitational wave signals. The joint detection of a binary neutron star merger and a gamma-ray burst is something that gamma-ray burst scientists have been waiting for decades, and it has been incredible to be part of such a historical event on both the gravitational wave and the electromagnetic side.”

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