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

Title: Measuring the Viewing Angle of GW170817 with Electromagnetic and Gravitational Waves

Abstract

The joint detection of gravitational waves (GWs) and electromagnetic (EM) radiation from the binary neutron star merger GW170817 ushered in a new era of multi-messenger astronomy. Joint GW–EM observations can be used to measure the parameters of the binary with better precision than either observation alone. Here, we use joint GW–EM observations to measure the viewing angle of GW170817, the angle between the binary's angular momentum and the line of sight. We combine a direct measurement of the distance to the host galaxy of GW170817 (NGC 4993) of 40.7 ± 2.36 Mpc with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO)/Virgo GW data and find that the viewing angle is $${32}_{-13}^{+10}\,\pm 1.7$$ degrees (90% confidence, statistical, and systematic errors). We place a conservative lower limit on the viewing angle of ≥13°, which is robust to the choice of prior. This measurement provides a constraint on models of the prompt γ-ray and radio/X-ray afterglow emission associated with the merger; for example, it is consistent with the off-axis viewing angle inferred for a structured jet model. Lastly, we provide for the first time the full posterior samples from Bayesian parameter estimation of LIGO/Virgo data to enable further analysis by the community.

Authors:
ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [1]; ORCiD logo [2]; ORCiD logo [3]
  1. Syracuse Univ., NY (United States). Dept. of Physics
  2. Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, MA (United States)
  3. Syracuse Univ., NY (United States). Dept. of Physics; Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Los Alamos National Lab. (LANL), Los Alamos, NM (United States)
Sponsoring Org.:
National Science Foundation (NSF)
OSTI Identifier:
1483523
Report Number(s):
LA-UR-18-23140
Journal ID: ISSN 2041-8213
Grant/Contract Number:  
89233218CNA000001
Resource Type:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal. Letters
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 860; Journal Issue: 1; Journal ID: ISSN 2041-8213
Publisher:
Institute of Physics (IOP)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
79 ASTRONOMY AND ASTROPHYSICS; binaries: close; gravitational waves; stars: neutron

Citation Formats

Finstad, Daniel, De, Soumi, Brown, Duncan A., Berger, Edo, and Biwer, Christopher M. Measuring the Viewing Angle of GW170817 with Electromagnetic and Gravitational Waves. United States: N. p., 2018. Web. doi:10.3847/2041-8213/aac6c1.
Finstad, Daniel, De, Soumi, Brown, Duncan A., Berger, Edo, & Biwer, Christopher M. Measuring the Viewing Angle of GW170817 with Electromagnetic and Gravitational Waves. United States. doi:10.3847/2041-8213/aac6c1.
Finstad, Daniel, De, Soumi, Brown, Duncan A., Berger, Edo, and Biwer, Christopher M. Wed . "Measuring the Viewing Angle of GW170817 with Electromagnetic and Gravitational Waves". United States. doi:10.3847/2041-8213/aac6c1. https://www.osti.gov/servlets/purl/1483523.
@article{osti_1483523,
title = {Measuring the Viewing Angle of GW170817 with Electromagnetic and Gravitational Waves},
author = {Finstad, Daniel and De, Soumi and Brown, Duncan A. and Berger, Edo and Biwer, Christopher M.},
abstractNote = {The joint detection of gravitational waves (GWs) and electromagnetic (EM) radiation from the binary neutron star merger GW170817 ushered in a new era of multi-messenger astronomy. Joint GW–EM observations can be used to measure the parameters of the binary with better precision than either observation alone. Here, we use joint GW–EM observations to measure the viewing angle of GW170817, the angle between the binary's angular momentum and the line of sight. We combine a direct measurement of the distance to the host galaxy of GW170817 (NGC 4993) of 40.7 ± 2.36 Mpc with the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO)/Virgo GW data and find that the viewing angle is ${32}_{-13}^{+10}\,\pm 1.7$ degrees (90% confidence, statistical, and systematic errors). We place a conservative lower limit on the viewing angle of ≥13°, which is robust to the choice of prior. This measurement provides a constraint on models of the prompt γ-ray and radio/X-ray afterglow emission associated with the merger; for example, it is consistent with the off-axis viewing angle inferred for a structured jet model. Lastly, we provide for the first time the full posterior samples from Bayesian parameter estimation of LIGO/Virgo data to enable further analysis by the community.},
doi = {10.3847/2041-8213/aac6c1},
journal = {The Astrophysical Journal. Letters},
number = 1,
volume = 860,
place = {United States},
year = {2018},
month = {6}
}

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

Citation Metrics:
Cited by: 21 works
Citation information provided by
Web of Science

Save / Share:

Works referenced in this record:

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


Hungary rewards highly cited scientists with bonus grants
journal, November 2017


FINDCHIRP: An algorithm for detection of gravitational waves from inspiraling compact binaries
journal, June 2012


Next-to-next-to-leading order spin–orbit effects in the gravitational wave flux and orbital phasing of compact binaries
journal, June 2013


Detecting binary neutron star systems with spin in advanced gravitational-wave detectors
journal, October 2012


Comparison of post-Newtonian templates for compact binary inspiral signals in gravitational-wave detectors
journal, October 2009


Calibration uncertainty for Advanced LIGO’s first and second observing runs
journal, November 2017


A Precise Distance to the Host Galaxy of the Binary Neutron Star Merger GW170817 Using Surface Brightness Fluctuations
journal, February 2018

  • Cantiello, Michele; Jensen, J. B.; Blakeslee, J. P.
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 854, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aaad64

Using Markov chain Monte Carlo methods for estimating parameters with gravitational radiation data
journal, May 2001


A Bayesian Approach to Multi-Messenger Astronomy: Identification of Gravitational-Wave host Galaxies
journal, October 2014

  • Fan, XiLong; Messenger, Christopher; Heng, Ik Siong
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 795, Issue 1
  • DOI: 10.1088/0004-637X/795/1/43

Aperture synthesis for gravitational-wave data analysis: Deterministic sources
journal, April 2001


Observing binary inspiral in gravitational radiation: One interferometer
journal, March 1993


emcee : The MCMC Hammer
journal, March 2013

  • Foreman-Mackey, Daniel; Hogg, David W.; Lang, Dustin
  • Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Vol. 125, Issue 925
  • DOI: 10.1086/670067

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


Improved Constraints on H 0 from a Combined Analysis of Gravitational-wave and Electromagnetic Emission from GW170817
journal, December 2017


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


The Orbit of GW170817 Was Inclined by Less Than 28° to the Line of Sight
journal, January 2018


The Binary Neutron Star Event LIGO/Virgo GW170817 160 Days after Merger: Synchrotron Emission across the Electromagnetic Spectrum
journal, March 2018


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


Self-interaction spin effects in inspiralling compact binaries
journal, June 2005

  • Mikóczi, Balázs; Vasúth, Mátyás; Gergely, László Á.
  • Physical Review D, Vol. 71, Issue 12
  • DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.71.124043

A mildly relativistic wide-angle outflow in the neutron-star merger event GW170817
journal, December 2017

  • Mooley, K. P.; Nakar, E.; Hotokezaka, K.
  • Nature, Vol. 554, Issue 7691
  • DOI: 10.1038/nature25452

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


Coherent Bayesian inference on compact binary inspirals using a network of interferometric gravitational wave detectors
journal, March 2007


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


Determining the Hubble constant from gravitational wave observations
journal, September 1986


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

The X-ray counterpart to the gravitational-wave event GW170817
journal, October 2017


The Discovery of the Electromagnetic Counterpart of GW170817: Kilonova AT 2017gfo/DLT17ck
journal, October 2017

  • Valenti, Stefano; Sand, David, J.; Yang, Sheng
  • The Astrophysical Journal, Vol. 848, Issue 2
  • DOI: 10.3847/2041-8213/aa8edf

The LIGO Open Science Center
journal, May 2015


Reconstructing the calibrated strain signal in the Advanced LIGO detectors
journal, April 2018


The Doppler response to gravitational waves from a binary star source
journal, November 1987

  • Wahlquist, Hugo
  • General Relativity and Gravitation, Vol. 19, Issue 11
  • DOI: 10.1007/BF00759146

    Works referencing / citing this record:

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


    A Hubble constant measurement from superluminal motion of the jet in GW170817
    journal, July 2019