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Title: The Emergence of a Lanthanide-rich Kilonova Following the Merger of Two Neutron Stars
Authors: Tanvir, N. R.
Levan, A. J.
González-Fernández, C.
Korobkin, O.
Mandel, I.
Rosswog, S.
Hjorth, J.
D'Avanzo, P.
Fruchter, A. S.
Fryer, C. L.
Kangas, T.
Milvang-Jensen, B.
Rosetti, S.
Steeghs, D.
Wollaeger, R. T.
Cano, Z.
Copperwheat, C. M.
Covino, S.
D'Elia, V.
de Ugarte Postigo, A.
Evans, P. A.
Even, W. P.
Fairhurst, S.
Jaimes, R. F.
Fontes, C. J.
Fujii, Y. I.
Fynbo, J. P. U.
Gompertz, B. P.
Greiner, J.
Hodosan, G.
Irwin, M. J.
Jakobsson, P.
Jørgensen, U. G.
Kann, D. A.
Lyman, J. D.
Malesani, D.
McMahon, R. G.
Melandri, A.
O'Brien, P. T.
Osborne, J. P.
Palazzi, E.
Perley, D. A.
Pian, E.
Piranomonte, S.
Rabus, M.
Rol, E.
Rowlinson, A.
Schulze, S.
Sutton, P.
Thöne, C. C.
Ulaczyk, K.
Watson, D.
Wiersema, K.
Wijers, R. A. M. J.
First Published: 16-Oct-2017
Publisher: American Astronomical Society, IOP Publishing
Citation: Astrophysical Journal Letters , 2017, 848 (2)
Abstract: We report the discovery and monitoring of the near-infrared counterpart (AT2017gfo) of a binary neutron-star merger event detected as a gravitational wave source by Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO)/Virgo (GW170817) and as a short gamma-ray burst by Fermi Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) and Integral SPI-ACS (GRB 170817A). The evolution of the transient light is consistent with predictions for the behavior of a “kilonova/macronova” powered by the radioactive decay of massive neutron-rich nuclides created via r-process nucleosynthesis in the neutron-star ejecta. In particular, evidence for this scenario is found from broad features seen in Hubble Space Telescope infrared spectroscopy, similar to those predicted for lanthanide-dominated ejecta, and the much slower evolution in the near-infrared Ks-band compared to the optical. This indicates that the late-time light is dominated by high-opacity lanthanide-rich ejecta, suggesting nucleosynthesis to the third r-process peak (atomic masses A » 195). This discovery confirms that neutron-star mergers produce kilo-/macronovae and that they are at least a major—if not the dominant—site of rapid neutron capture nucleosynthesis in the universe.
DOI Link: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa90b6
ISSN: 2041-8205
eISSN: 2041-8213
Version: Publisher Version
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © the authors, 2017. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy

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