skip to main content
DOE PAGES title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: The X-ray counterpart to the gravitational-wave event GW170817

Abstract

We present a long-standing paradigm in astrophysics is that collisions—or mergers—of two neutron stars form highly relativistic and collimated outflows (jets) that power γ-ray bursts of short (less than two seconds) duration. The observational support for this model, however, is only indirect. A hitherto outstanding prediction is that gravitational-wave events from such mergers should be associated with γ-ray bursts, and that a majority of these bursts should be seen off-axis, that is, they should point away from Earth. Here we report the discovery observations of the X-ray counterpart associated with the gravitational-wave event GW170817. Although the electromagnetic counterpart at optical and infrared frequencies is dominated by the radioactive glow (known as a ‘kilonova’) from freshly synthesized rapid neutron capture (r-process) material in the merger ejecta, observations at X-ray and, later, radio frequencies are consistent with a short γ-ray burst viewed off-axis. Lastly, our detection of X-ray emission at a location coincident with the kilonova transient provides the missing observational link between short γ-ray bursts and gravitational waves from neutron-star mergers, and gives independent confirmation of the collimated nature of the γ-ray-burst emission.

Authors:
 [1];  [2];  [3];  [4];  [5];  [6];  [7];  [8];  [9];  [4];  [10];  [11];  [6];  [4];  [5];  [12];  [13];  [13];  [5];  [14] more »;  [14];  [4];  [15];  [6];  [5];  [16];  [16];  [5];  [1];  [5];  [2];  [17];  [18];  [5] « less
  1. Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD (United States); NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Greenbelt, MD (United States)
  2. INAF, Istituto di Astrofisica e Planetologia Spaziali, Rome (Italy)
  3. University of Bath, Claverton Down (United Kingdom)
  4. Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
  5. Seoul National University (South Korea)
  6. Space Telescope Science Institute, Baltimore, MD (United States)
  7. Arizona State Univ., Tempe, AZ (United States)
  8. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Greenbelt, MD (United States); Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD (United States)
  9. Aoyama Gakuin University (Japan)
  10. INAF-Istituto di Radioastronomia (Italy)
  11. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Greenbelt, MD (United States); Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore, MD (United States)
  12. Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik, Giessenbachstrasse (Germany)
  13. Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (Mexico)
  14. INAF/Brera Astronomical Observatory, Merate (Italy)
  15. Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (Spain); Universidad de La Laguna (Spain)
  16. Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (South Korea)
  17. Univ. of Maryland, College Park, MD (United States)
  18. CSIRO Astronomy and Space Science, Epping (Australia)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
USDOE National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA); USDOE Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Program
OSTI Identifier:
1479933
Report Number(s):
[LA-UR-17-29087]
[Journal ID: ISSN 0028-0836]
Grant/Contract Number:  
[AC52-06NA25396]
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Nature (London)
Additional Journal Information:
[Journal Name: Nature (London); Journal Volume: 551; Journal Issue: 7678]; Journal ID: ISSN 0028-0836
Publisher:
Nature Publishing Group
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS; gravitational waves; kilonova; X-rays; counterpart; r-process

Citation Formats

Troja, E., Piro, L., van Eerten, H., Wollaeger, R. T., Im, M., Fox, O. D., Butler, N. R., Cenko, S. B., Sakamoto, T., Fryer, C. L., Ricci, R., Lien, A., Ryan, R. E., Korobkin, O., Lee, S. -K., Burgess, J. M., Lee, W. H., Watson, A. M., Choi, C., Covino, S., D’Avanzo, P., Fontes, C. J., González, J. Becerra, Khandrika, H. G., Kim, J., Kim, S. -L., Lee, C. -U., Lee, H. M., Kutyrev, A., Lim, G., Sánchez-Ramírez, R., Veilleux, S., Wieringa, M. H., and Yoon, Y. The X-ray counterpart to the gravitational-wave event GW170817. United States: N. p., 2017. Web. doi:10.1038/nature24290.
Troja, E., Piro, L., van Eerten, H., Wollaeger, R. T., Im, M., Fox, O. D., Butler, N. R., Cenko, S. B., Sakamoto, T., Fryer, C. L., Ricci, R., Lien, A., Ryan, R. E., Korobkin, O., Lee, S. -K., Burgess, J. M., Lee, W. H., Watson, A. M., Choi, C., Covino, S., D’Avanzo, P., Fontes, C. J., González, J. Becerra, Khandrika, H. G., Kim, J., Kim, S. -L., Lee, C. -U., Lee, H. M., Kutyrev, A., Lim, G., Sánchez-Ramírez, R., Veilleux, S., Wieringa, M. H., & Yoon, Y. The X-ray counterpart to the gravitational-wave event GW170817. United States. doi:10.1038/nature24290.
Troja, E., Piro, L., van Eerten, H., Wollaeger, R. T., Im, M., Fox, O. D., Butler, N. R., Cenko, S. B., Sakamoto, T., Fryer, C. L., Ricci, R., Lien, A., Ryan, R. E., Korobkin, O., Lee, S. -K., Burgess, J. M., Lee, W. H., Watson, A. M., Choi, C., Covino, S., D’Avanzo, P., Fontes, C. J., González, J. Becerra, Khandrika, H. G., Kim, J., Kim, S. -L., Lee, C. -U., Lee, H. M., Kutyrev, A., Lim, G., Sánchez-Ramírez, R., Veilleux, S., Wieringa, M. H., and Yoon, Y. Mon . "The X-ray counterpart to the gravitational-wave event GW170817". United States. doi:10.1038/nature24290. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1479933.
@article{osti_1479933,
title = {The X-ray counterpart to the gravitational-wave event GW170817},
author = {Troja, E. and Piro, L. and van Eerten, H. and Wollaeger, R. T. and Im, M. and Fox, O. D. and Butler, N. R. and Cenko, S. B. and Sakamoto, T. and Fryer, C. L. and Ricci, R. and Lien, A. and Ryan, R. E. and Korobkin, O. and Lee, S. -K. and Burgess, J. M. and Lee, W. H. and Watson, A. M. and Choi, C. and Covino, S. and D’Avanzo, P. and Fontes, C. J. and González, J. Becerra and Khandrika, H. G. and Kim, J. and Kim, S. -L. and Lee, C. -U. and Lee, H. M. and Kutyrev, A. and Lim, G. and Sánchez-Ramírez, R. and Veilleux, S. and Wieringa, M. H. and Yoon, Y.},
abstractNote = {We present a long-standing paradigm in astrophysics is that collisions—or mergers—of two neutron stars form highly relativistic and collimated outflows (jets) that power γ-ray bursts of short (less than two seconds) duration. The observational support for this model, however, is only indirect. A hitherto outstanding prediction is that gravitational-wave events from such mergers should be associated with γ-ray bursts, and that a majority of these bursts should be seen off-axis, that is, they should point away from Earth. Here we report the discovery observations of the X-ray counterpart associated with the gravitational-wave event GW170817. Although the electromagnetic counterpart at optical and infrared frequencies is dominated by the radioactive glow (known as a ‘kilonova’) from freshly synthesized rapid neutron capture (r-process) material in the merger ejecta, observations at X-ray and, later, radio frequencies are consistent with a short γ-ray burst viewed off-axis. Lastly, our detection of X-ray emission at a location coincident with the kilonova transient provides the missing observational link between short γ-ray bursts and gravitational waves from neutron-star mergers, and gives independent confirmation of the collimated nature of the γ-ray-burst emission.},
doi = {10.1038/nature24290},
journal = {Nature (London)},
number = [7678],
volume = [551],
place = {United States},
year = {2017},
month = {10}
}

Journal Article:
Free Publicly Available Full Text
Publisher's Version of Record

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 200 works
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

Save / Share:

Works referenced in this record:

Identification of two classes of gamma-ray bursts
journal, August 1993

  • Kouveliotou, Chryssa; Meegan, Charles A.; Fishman, Gerald J.
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 413
  • DOI: 10.1086/186969

Precursors of Short Gamma-Ray Bursts
journal, October 2010


Gamma-Ray Burst Afterglow with Continuous Energy Injection: Signature of a Highly Magnetized Millisecond Pulsar
journal, May 2001

  • Zhang, Bing; Mészáros, Peter
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 552, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1086/320255

The electromagnetic signals of compact binary mergers
journal, February 2013

  • Piran, T.; Nakar, E.; Rosswog, S.
  • Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 430, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stt037

MODELING THE AFTERGLOW OF THE POSSIBLE FERMI -GBM EVENT ASSOCIATED WITH GW150914
journal, July 2016


Microscopic mass formulas
journal, July 1995


On the host Galaxy of grb 150101b and the Associated Active Galactic Nucleus
journal, June 2016


Relativistic opacities for astrophysical applications
journal, September 2015


Light Curves and Spectra from a Thermonuclear Explosion of a White Dwarf Merger
journal, August 2016


Jet Collimation in the Ejecta of Double Neutron star Mergers: a new Canonical Picture of Short Gamma-Ray Bursts
journal, March 2014

  • Nagakura, Hiroki; Hotokezaka, Kenta; Sekiguchi, Yuichiro
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 784, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1088/2041-8205/784/2/L28

A short γ-ray burst apparently associated with an elliptical galaxy at redshift z = 0.225
journal, October 2005

  • Gehrels, N.; Sarazin, C. L.; O'Brien, P. T.
  • Nature, Vol. 437, Issue 7060
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature04142

THE SPECTRAL SN-GRB CONNECTION: SYSTEMATIC SPECTRAL COMPARISONS BETWEEN TYPE Ic SUPERNOVAE AND BROAD-LINED TYPE Ic SUPERNOVAE WITH AND WITHOUT GAMMA-RAY BURSTS
journal, November 2016


Spectra and Light Curves of Gamma-Ray Burst Afterglows
journal, April 1998

  • Sari, Re'em; Piran, Tsvi; Narayan, Ramesh
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 497, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1086/311269

Nuclear Ground-State Masses and Deformations
journal, March 1995

  • Moller, P.; Nix, J. R.; Myers, W. D.
  • Atomic Data and Nuclear Data Tables, Vol. 59, Issue 2, p. 185-381
  • DOI: 10.1006/adnd.1995.1002

Delayed X-ray emission from fallback in compact-object mergers
journal, February 2009


Off-Axis Afterglow Emission from Jetted Gamma-Ray Bursts
journal, May 2002

  • Granot, Jonathan; Panaitescu, Alin; Kumar, Pawan
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 570, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1086/340991

Nucleosynthesis, neutrino bursts and γ-rays from coalescing neutron stars
journal, July 1989

  • Eichler, David; Livio, Mario; Piran, Tsvi
  • Nature, Vol. 340, Issue 6229
  • DOI: 10.1038/340126a0

Line Strengths of Early-Type Galaxies
journal, May 2008

  • Ogando, Ricardo L. C.; Maia, Marcio A. G.; Pellegrini, Paulo S.
  • The Astronomical Journal, Vol. 135, Issue 6
  • DOI: 10.1088/0004-6256/135/6/2424

Grb 080503 late Afterglow Re-Brightening: Signature of a Magnetar-Powered Merger-Nova
journal, July 2015


Electromagnetic counterparts of compact object mergers powered by the radioactive decay of r-process nuclei: Transients from compact object mergers
journal, June 2010


Detectability of compact binary merger macronovae
journal, April 2017


Networks of gravitational wave detectors and three figures of merit
journal, May 2011


Gamma-ray bursts and the fireball model
journal, June 1999


Gamma-Ray Burst Afterglow Broadband Fitting Based Directly on Hydrodynamics Simulations
journal, March 2012

  • van Eerten, Hendrik; van der Horst, Alexander; MacFadyen, Andrew
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 749, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/749/1/44

The Metamorphosis of SN 1998bw
journal, July 2001

  • Patat, Ferdinando; Cappellaro, Enrico; Danziger, John
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 555, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1086/321526

High precision X-ray log N – log S distributions: implications for the obscured AGN population
journal, October 2008


Optical-Near-Infrared Color Gradients and Merging History of Elliptical Galaxies
journal, March 2013


The Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS)
journal, February 2006

  • Skrutskie, M. F.; Cutri, R. M.; Stiening, R.
  • The Astronomical Journal, Vol. 131, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1086/498708

Galactic Stellar and Substellar Initial Mass Function
journal, July 2003

  • Chabrier, Gilles
  • Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Vol. 115, Issue 809
  • DOI: 10.1086/376392

The Macronova in GRB 050709 and the GRB-macronova connection
journal, September 2016

  • Jin, Zhi-Ping; Hotokezaka, Kenta; Li, Xiang
  • Nature Communications, Vol. 7, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1038/ncomms12898

Kmtnet: a Network of 1.6 m Wide-Field Optical Telescopes Installed at Three Southern Observatories
journal, February 2016

  • Kim, Seung-Lee; Lee, Chung-Uk; Park, Byeong-Gon
  • Journal of The Korean Astronomical Society, Vol. 49, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.5303/JKAS.2016.49.1.37

Radiation Transport for Explosive Outflows: a Multigroup Hybrid Monte Carlo Method
journal, November 2013

  • Wollaeger, Ryan T.; van Rossum, Daniel R.; Graziani, Carlo
  • The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, Vol. 209, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1088/0067-0049/209/2/36

Transient Events from Neutron Star Mergers
journal, November 1998

  • Li, Li-Xin; Paczyński, Bohdan
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 507, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1086/311680

Short-Duration Gamma-Ray Bursts
journal, August 2014


Properties of X-ray rich gamma ray bursts and X-ray flashes detected with BeppoSAX and Hete-2
journal, September 2006


How to Tell a Jet from a Balloon: A Proposed Test for Beaming in Gamma-Ray Bursts
journal, September 1997

  • Rhoads, James E.
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 487, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1086/310876

Gamma-Ray Bursts are Observed Off-Axis
journal, January 2015

  • Ryan, Geoffrey; van Eerten, Hendrik; MacFadyen, Andrew
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 799, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/799/1/3

An Achromatic Break in the Afterglow of the Short grb 140903a: Evidence for a Narrow jet
journal, August 2016


Radioactivity and Thermalization in the Ejecta of Compact Object Mergers and Their Impact on Kilonova Light Curves
journal, September 2016


The Missing Link: Merging Neutron Stars Naturally Produce Jet-Like Structures and can Power Short Gamma-Ray Bursts
journal, April 2011

  • Rezzolla, Luciano; Giacomazzo, Bruno; Baiotti, Luca
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 732, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1088/2041-8205/732/1/L6

A complete sample of bright Swift short gamma-ray bursts
journal, June 2014

  • D'Avanzo, P.; Salvaterra, R.; Bernardini, M. G.
  • Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 442, Issue 3
  • DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stu994

Measuring Reddening with Sloan Digital sky Survey Stellar Spectra and Recalibrating sfd
journal, August 2011


Stellar population synthesis at the resolution of 2003
journal, October 2003


Determining the Type, Redshift, and Age of a Supernova Spectrum
journal, September 2007

  • Blondin, Stephane; Tonry, John L.
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 666, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1086/520494

Afterglow light curves, viewing angle and the jet structure of  -ray bursts
journal, June 2002


Gamma-Ray Burst Afterglow Scaling Relations for the full Blast wave Evolution
journal, February 2012


Detectable radio flares following gravitational waves from mergers of binary neutron stars
journal, September 2011


Off-axis emission of short γ-ray bursts and the detectability of electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational-wave-detected binary mergers
journal, July 2017

  • Lazzati, Davide; Deich, Alex; Morsony, Brian J.
  • Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 471, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stx1683

The Los Alamos suite of relativistic atomic physics codes
journal, May 2015

  • Fontes, C. J.; Zhang, H. L.; Jr, J. Abdallah
  • Journal of Physics B: Atomic, Molecular and Optical Physics, Vol. 48, Issue 14
  • DOI: 10.1088/0953-4075/48/14/144014

X-Ray-Powered Macronovae
journal, February 2016


The long-term evolution of neutron star merger remnants – II. Radioactively powered transients
journal, January 2014

  • Grossman, Doron; Korobkin, Oleg; Rosswog, Stephan
  • Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 439, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stt2503

A Complete Sample of Ultraluminous X-Ray Source host Galaxies
journal, October 2011

  • Swartz, Douglas A.; Soria, Roberto; Tennant, Allyn F.
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 741, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/741/1/49

Off-Axis Gamma-Ray Burst Afterglow Modeling Based on a Two-Dimensional Axisymmetric Hydrodynamics Simulation
journal, September 2010


Radiation Transport for Explosive Outflows: Opacity Regrouping
journal, October 2014

  • Wollaeger, Ryan T.; van Rossum, Daniel R.
  • The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, Vol. 214, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.1088/0067-0049/214/2/28

GW170817: Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Neutron Star Inspiral
journal, October 2017


An Ordinary Short Gamma-Ray Burst with Extraordinary Implications: Fermi -GBM Detection of GRB 170817A
journal, October 2017


INTEGRAL Detection of the First Prompt Gamma-Ray Signal Coincident with the Gravitational-wave Event GW170817
journal, October 2017


Swope Supernova Survey 2017a (SSS17a), the optical counterpart to a gravitational wave source
journal, October 2017


Swift and NuSTAR observations of GW170817: Detection of a blue kilonova
journal, October 2017


A radio counterpart to a neutron star merger
journal, October 2017


Off-axis Prompt X-Ray Transients from the Cocoon of Short Gamma-Ray Bursts
journal, October 2017

  • Lazzati, Davide; López-Cámara, Diego; Cantiello, Matteo
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 848, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa8f3d

The Electromagnetic Counterpart of the Binary Neutron Star Merger LIGO/Virgo GW170817. V. Rising X-Ray Emission from an Off-axis Jet
journal, October 2017


A Deep Chandra X-Ray Study of Neutron Star Coalescence GW170817
journal, October 2017

  • Haggard, Daryl; Nynka, Melania; Ruan, John J.
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 848, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa8ede

The Emergence of a Lanthanide-rich Kilonova Following the Merger of Two Neutron Stars
journal, October 2017

  • Tanvir, N. R.; Levan, A. J.; González-Fernández, C.
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 848, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa90b6

The Environment of the Binary Neutron Star Merger GW170817
journal, October 2017


A kilonova as the electromagnetic counterpart to a gravitational-wave source
journal, October 2017

  • Smartt, S. J.; Chen, T. -W.; Jerkstrand, A.
  • Nature, Vol. 551, Issue 7678
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature24303

Spectroscopic identification of r-process nucleosynthesis in a double neutron-star merger
journal, October 2017


Light curves of the neutron star merger GW170817/SSS17a: Implications for r-process nucleosynthesis
journal, October 2017


Illuminating gravitational waves: A concordant picture of photons from a neutron star merger
journal, October 2017


The cocoon emission – an electromagnetic counterpart to gravitational waves from neutron star mergers
journal, September 2017

  • Gottlieb, Ore; Nakar, Ehud; Piran, Tsvi
  • Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Vol. 473, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1093/mnras/stx2357

    Works referencing / citing this record:

    The optical afterglow of the short gamma-ray burst associated with GW170817
    journal, July 2018


    Detecting the Hadron-Quark Phase Transition with Gravitational Waves
    journal, June 2019


    Investigation of a sample of carbon-enhanced metal-poor stars observed with FORS and GMOS
    journal, June 2018


    Binary neutron stars and production of heavy elements
    journal, January 2019

    • Matteucci, Francesca; Romano, Donatella; Cescutti, Gabriele
    • Rendiconti Lincei. Scienze Fisiche e Naturali, Vol. 30, Issue S1
    • DOI: 10.1007/s12210-018-0754-z

    An Empirical Study of Contamination in Deep, Rapid, and Wide-field Optical Follow-up of Gravitational Wave Events
    journal, April 2018


    Impact of Pulsar and Fallback Sources on Multifrequency Kilonova Models
    journal, July 2019

    • Wollaeger, Ryan T.; Fryer, Chris L.; Fontes, Christopher J.
    • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 880, Issue 1
    • DOI: 10.3847/1538-4357/ab25f5

    Fermi GBM Observations of GRB 150101B: A Second Nearby Event with a Short Hard Spike and a Soft Tail
    journal, August 2018


    Follow-up of the Neutron Star Bearing Gravitational-wave Candidate Events S190425z and S190426c with MMT and SOAR
    journal, July 2019

    • Hosseinzadeh, G.; Cowperthwaite, P. S.; Gomez, S.
    • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 880, Issue 1
    • DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/ab271c