Fermilab Computing Division

GW170817: Discovery of the optical counterpart of a neutron star merger with DECam

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Full Title: GW170817: Discovery of the optical counterpart of a neutron star merger with DECam
Date & Time: 16 Jan 2018 at 13:00
Event Location: DIR/ One West-WH1W - Wilson Hall 1st fl West
Event Topic(s): Computing Techniques Seminar
Event Moderator(s):
Event Info: Speaker:
Ken Herner, SCD, User Support for Distributed Computing

August 17, 2017 witnessed the beginning of a new era in astronomy. A pair of neutron stars came together, emitting gravitational waves detected by the LIGO/Virgo collaboration, a gamma ray burst, and “kilonova”, visible across the electromagnetic spectrum. After LIGO sent an alert that they had a candidate event, teams around the world geared up to search for an electromagnetic counterpart to the LIGO trigger. One of these teams was DESGW, a collaboration between DES members and other astronomers. DES-GW was one of several teams that independently discovered the optical counterpart about 11 hours after the trigger. We will describe the process of identifying the counterpart, with emphasis on the important roles that SCD services and personnel played at each stage. We will also discuss what we are learning from this discovery, especially about the origins of heavy elements and the expansion of the universe, and conclude with plans for the next LIGO observing run in 2018.

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