Artist's illustration of merging neutron stars. Image credit: NSF/LIGO/Sonoma State University/A. Simonnet

Physics World 2017 Breakthrough of the Year Award

News Release • December 11, 2017

Physics World announced that the first multi-messenger detection of a neutron star merger was 2017's breakthrough of the year.  On August 17, 2017 LIGO detected a gravitational wave that was expected to come from a neutron star merger.  Around 2 seconds later a Gamma Ray Burst occured and was detected by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope.  Together with LIGO, Virgo and Fermi's information astronomers were able to piece together approximately where in the sky the neutron star merger occured.  Telescopes around the world pointed there scopes at the spot and soon identified precisely where the neutron stars had collided.  In the coming months more than 70 telescopes observed multiple frequencies of electromagnetic radiation coming from the neutron star merger, yielding a treasure trove of information about the kilonova that occured when the two neutron stars collided.  Over 50 collaborations, including LIGO participated in this venture.  For more on this detection check out our news article, or the press release.  Last year Physics World awarded LIGO with the 2016 breakthrough of the year, due to the detection it's detection of gravitational waves. 

For more information on how Physics World decided the 2017 breakthrough of the year, check out their article at: .