Living Reviews in Relativity: "Neutron star mergers and how to study them"

© SpringerEric Burns. Neutron star mergers and how to study them. Living Rev Relativ 23, 4 (2020).

Open Access | Review Article

Published: 26 November 2020


Neutron star mergers are the canonical multimessenger events: they have been observed through photons for half a century, gravitational waves since 2017, and are likely to be sources of neutrinos and cosmic rays. Studies of these events enable unique insights into astrophysics, particles in the ultrarelativistic regime, the heavy element enrichment history through cosmic time, cosmology, dense matter, and fundamental physics. Uncovering this science requires vast observational resources, unparalleled coordination, and advancements in theory and simulation, which are constrained by our current understanding of nuclear, atomic, and astroparticle physics. This review begins with a summary of our current knowledge of these events, the expected observational signatures, and estimated detection rates for the next decade. I then present the key observations necessary to advance our understanding of these sources, followed by the broad science this enables. I close with a discussion on the necessary future capabilities to fully utilize these enigmatic sources to understand our universe.