Gravitational waves, travelling disturbances of space-time predicted by the theory of general relativity, were discovered 2 years ago by LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory). On the 17 August 2017 an international team of astronomers, including dr. Michał Michałowski from the AOI AMU, for the first time detected radiation from colliding neutron stars – the sources of gravitational waves. Neutron stars are extremely dense objects with sizes of around ten kilometres and a few times more massive than the Sun. The discovery of this radiation provided the confirmation that gravitational waves can also be emitted by neutron stars. Moreover, the observation of gamma-rays provided the proof that so-called short gamma-ray bursts result from the collisions of such stars. This discovery opens new ways of using gravitational waves to study very massive stars.
The research of dr. Michał Michałowski is supported by the National Science Centre, Poland through the POLONEZ grant 2015/19/P/ST9/04010; this project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 665778.