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Published December 1, 2017 | Published + Submitted
Journal Article Open

Estimating the contribution of dynamical ejecta in the kilonova associated with GW170817


The source of the gravitational-wave (GW) signal GW170817, very likely a binary neutron star merger, was also observed electromagnetically, providing the first multi-messenger observations of this type. The two-week-long electromagnetic (EM) counterpart had a signature indicative of an r-process-induced optical transient known as a kilonova. This Letter examines how the mass of the dynamical ejecta can be estimated without a direct electromagnetic observation of the kilonova, using GW measurements and a phenomenological model calibrated to numerical simulations of mergers with dynamical ejecta. Specifically, we apply the model to the binary masses inferred from the GW measurements, and use the resulting mass of the dynamical ejecta to estimate its contribution (without the effects of wind ejecta) to the corresponding kilonova light curves from various models. The distributions of dynamical ejecta mass range between M_(ej) = 10^(-3) – 10^(-2) M⊙ for various equations of state, assuming that the neutron stars are rotating slowly. In addition, we use our estimates of the dynamical ejecta mass and the neutron star merger rates inferred from GW170817 to constrain the contribution of events like this to the r-process element abundance in the Galaxy when ejecta mass from post-merger winds is neglected. We find that if ≳10% of the matter dynamically ejected from binary neutron star (BNS) mergers is converted to r-process elements, GW170817-like BNS mergers could fully account for the amount of r-process material observed in the Milky Way.

Additional Information

© 2017 The American Astronomical Society. Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI. Received 2017 October 11; revised 2017 October 14; accepted 2017 October 15; published 2017 December 1. The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the United States National Science Foundation (NSF) for the construction and operation of the LIGO Laboratory and Advanced LIGO as well as the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) of the United Kingdom, the Max-Planck-Society (MPS), and the State of Niedersachsen/Germany for support of the construction of Advanced LIGO and construction and operation of the GEO600 detector. Additional support for Advanced LIGO was provided by the Australian Research Council. The authors gratefully acknowledge the Italian Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN), the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) and the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, for the construction and operation of the Virgo detector and the creation and support of the EGO consortium. The authors also gratefully acknowledge research support from these agencies as well as by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research of India, the Department of Science and Technology, India, the Science & Engineering Research Board (SERB), India, the Ministry of Human Resource Development, India, the Spanish Agencia Estatal de Investigación, the Vicepresidència i Conselleria d'Innovació Recerca i Turisme and the Conselleria d'Educació i Universitat del Govern de les Illes Balears, the Conselleria d'Educació Investigació Cultura i Esport de la Generalitat Valenciana, the National Science Centre of Poland, the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, the Russian Science Foundation, the European Commission, the European Regional Development Funds (ERDF), the Royal Society, the Scottish Funding Council, the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance, the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA), the Lyon Institute of Origins (LIO), the National Research, Development and Innovation Office Hungary (NKFI), the National Research Foundation of Korea, Industry Canada and the Province of Ontario through the Ministry of Economic Development and Innovation, the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council Canada, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the Brazilian Ministry of Science, Technology, Innovations, and Communications, the International Center for Theoretical Physics South American Institute for Fundamental Research (ICTP-SAIFR), the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong, the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC), the Leverhulme Trust, the Research Corporation, the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), Taiwan and the Kavli Foundation. The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the NSF, STFC, MPS, INFN, CNRS, and the State of Niedersachsen/Germany for provision of computational resources.

Attached Files

Published - Abbott_2017_ApJL_850_L39.pdf

Submitted - LIGO-P1700309.pdf


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August 19, 2023
August 19, 2023