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Infrared dust echoes from neutron star mergers

Lu, Wenbin and McKee, Christopher F. and Mooley, Kunal P. (2021) Infrared dust echoes from neutron star mergers. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 507 (3). pp. 3672-3689. ISSN 0035-8711. doi:10.1093/mnras/stab2388.

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A significant fraction of binary neutron star mergers occur in star-forming galaxies where the UV-optical and soft X-ray emission from the relativistic jet may be absorbed by dust and re-emitted at longer wavelengths. We show that, for mergers occurring in gas-rich environment (⁠n_H ≳ 0.5 cm⁻³ at a few to tens of pc) and when the viewing angle is less than about 30°, the emission from heated dust should be detectable by James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), with a detection rate of ∼1 yr⁻¹⁠. The spatial separation between the dust emission and the merger site is a few to 10 milli-arcsecs (for a source distance of 150 Mpc), which may be astrometrically resolved by JWST for sufficiently high signal-noise-ratio detections. Measuring the superluminal apparent speed of the flux centroid directly gives the orbital inclination of the merger, which can be combined with gravitational wave data to measure the Hubble constant. For a line of sight within the jet opening angle, the dust echoes are much brighter and may contaminate the search for kilonova candidates from short gamma-ray bursts, such as the case of GRB 130603B.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Lu, Wenbin0000-0002-1568-7461
McKee, Christopher F.0000-0003-1858-3892
Mooley, Kunal P.0000-0002-2557-5180
Additional Information:© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal Astronomical Society. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model ( Accepted 2021 August 5. Received 2021 July 28; in original form 2021 April 17. Published: 19 August 2021. We thank the referee, Bruce Draine, for constructive comments and Paz Beniamini for helpful discussions. WL was supported by the David and Ellen Lee Fellowship at California Institute of Technology and Lyman Spitzer, Jr. Fellowship at Princeton University. The research of CFM is supported in part by NASA grant 80NSSC20K0530. The research of KPM is supported by National Science Foundation Grant AST-1911199. Data Availability: The data underlying this article will be shared on reasonable request to the corresponding author.
Group:TAPIR, Walter Burke Institute for Theoretical Physics
Funding AgencyGrant Number
David and Ellen Lee Postdoctoral ScholarshipUNSPECIFIED
Princeton UniversityUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:gravitational waves – dust, extinction – infrared: general – gamma-ray bursts – neutron star mergers
Issue or Number:3
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20211115-233417966
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Wenbin Lu, Christopher F McKee, Kunal P Mooley, Infrared dust echoes from neutron star mergers, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 507, Issue 3, November 2021, Pages 3672–3689,
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:111880
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:16 Nov 2021 17:36
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 17:36

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