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Maunakea Skies Talk Series: Striking Gold with Gravitational Waves

by Imiloa Astronomy Center on May 31st, 2018


FRIDAY, JUNE 1st at 7:00PM

Where was gold born in the universe? Come learn about the rapid neutron capture reaction (r-process) and how the merging of neutron stars, so-called “kilonovas”, could provide the answer.

On August 17, 2017, for the first time in human history, gravitational waves from the coalescence of neutron stars were detected by state-of-the-art gravitational wave detectors LIGO and Virgo. This event, named GW 170817, was immediately followed by follow-up observations with various kinds of telescopes around the world, and its electromagnetic counterpart was detected with wide range of electromagnetic waves from gamma rays to radio. It became the first example of successful cooperative observation of gravitational waves and electromagnetic waves, which also enabled us to open up a new window of “multi-messenger astronomy”. The follow-up observations of optical and infrared band were performed using many telescopes, including the Subaru Telescope. Astronomers have found evidence from the observations that huge quantities of heavy elements were produced in the explosion (kilonova) associated with GW 170817. Most of the generated heavy elements were thought to be r-process elements including gold, platinum, or uranium. Did astronomers finally identify the birthplace of gold?

Hosted by Planetarium Technician Emily Peavy, ‘Imiloa’s monthly Maunakea Skies program includes observational highlights of the current night sky over Hawai‘i, with the audience able to view prominent constellations and stars visible during this time of year.


Tickets: $10 ($8 for Members)

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