School of Mathematics

Dr Jonathan Gair contributes to the first detection of a powerful astronomical event

Dr Jonathan Gair from the School of Mathematics has contributed to the first detection and analysis of a powerful astronomical event - the merger of two very dense neutron stars.

It is the first binary neutron star collision to be observed by the international Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) collaboration, and the first gravitational wave event to also be observed by conventional electromagnetic telescopes. Observing the same event in different ways provides much more information about the processes involved when neutron stars collide in deep space. It has also allowed a measurement of the rate at which the universe is expanding - known to scientists as Hubble's constant.

Dr Gair, a Reader in the School of Mathematics, was involved in the gravitational wave data analysis and scientific interpretation of the event. A postgraduate student from the School of Physics and Astronomy was also involved with one of the electromagnetic follow-up observations. Further details can be found on the University website at Associated publications include, an article in Physical Review Letters which describes the gravitational wave detection, and , a Nature Letter describing the constraint on the rate of expansion of the Universe.