Compact radio emission indicates a structured jet was produced by a binary neutron star merger

G. Ghirlanda, O. S. Salafia, S. Covino, S. Frey, L. I. Gurvits, P. G. Jonker, H. J. Van Langevelde, A. Melandri, C. Reynolds, More Authors

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

83 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The binary neutron star merger event GW170817 was detected through both electromagnetic radiation and gravitational waves. Its afterglow emission may have been produced by either a narrow relativistic jet or an isotropic outflow. High-spatial-resolution measurements of the source size and displacement can discriminate between these scenarios. We present very-long-baseline interferometry observations, performed 207.4 days after the merger by using a global network of 32 radio telescopes. The apparent source size is constrained to be smaller than 2.5 milli-arc seconds at the 90% confidence level. This excludes the isotropic outflow scenario, which would have produced a larger apparent size, indicating that GW170817 produced a structured relativistic jet. Our rate calculations show that at least 10% of neutron star mergers produce such a jet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)968-971
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume363
Issue number6430
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

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