Zooming in on Coalescing Neutron Stars and Black Holes
August 08, 2013
Abstract: Beside being the primary source of gravitational waves (GWs) for ground-based detectors such as LIGO and Virgo, coalescence of neutron stars and/or stellar-mass black holes are unique laboratories for strong field gravity and high-energy astrophysical processes. In my talk I will discuss prospects for performing the follow-up observations of these cataclysmic events in electromagnetic (EM) spectrum enabled by detection of the GW signals. The upcoming advanced LIGO and Virgo detectors are sensitive enough to detect GW signals from such systems at distances of several hundred Mpc and are scheduled to begin scientific observations as early as 2015. I will focus on observations with Murchison Widefield Array (MWA), a low frequency (80-300 MHz) radio telescope. Due to its large field-of-view (~600 sq.deg.) and high sensitivity it is especially well suited for observations during the early science runs of advanced LIGO, when uncertainty in positions of the GW sources will be in the range of 100 – 1000 sq.deg. I will also review the current models for EM emission from coalescence involving neutron stars and share some speculative ideas about possible emission from binary black holes. I will conclude with broader outlook on the EM follow-up observations across the whole spectrum from radio to gamma-ray and their role in GW astronomy.