LIGO Is a Co-Recipient of the Physics World 2017 Breakthrough of the Year Award

Physics World has announced that its 2017 Breakthrough of the Year award "goes to the international team of astronomers and astrophysicists that ushered in a new ear of astronomy by making the first ever multi-messenger observation of gravitational waves." In August of this year, the LIGO-Virgo collaboration made a detection of a binary neutron star merger, later dubbed GW170817. While a remarkable discovery in itself, it was made even more so by the fact that it was also picked up, just seconds later, by the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, making it the 1st coordinated observation of gravitational waves and electromagnetic emissions from the same event. More than 70 observatories on the ground and in space operating across the entire electromagnetic spectrum later joined in the observation of GW170817. As the award citation notes:

These coordinated observations have already provided a vast amount of information about what happens when neutron stars collide in what is called a "kilonova". The observations have yielded important clues about how heavy elements, such as gold, are produced in the universe. The ability to measure both gravitational waves and visible light from neutron-star mergers has also given a new and independent way of measuring the expansion rate of the universe. In addition, the observation settles a long-standing debate about the origin of short, high-energy, gamma-ray bursts.
This year's award follows the Physics World 2016 Breakthrough of the Year Award to LIGO for its discovery of gravitational waves.

Congratulations to the LIGO team and to our Virgo colleagues!

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