The electromagnetic counterpart of the binary neutron star merger LIGO/Virgo GW170817. VI. radio constraints on a relativistic jet and predictions for late-time emission from the kilonova ejecta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


  • K. D. Alexander
  • E. Berger
  • W. Fong
  • P. K. G. Williams
  • C. Guidorzi
  • R. Margutti
  • B. D. Metzger
  • J. Annis
  • P. K. Blanchard
  • D. Brout
  • D. A. Brown
  • H. -Y. Chen
  • R. Chornock
  • P. S. Cowperthwaite
  • M. Drout
  • T. Eftekhari
  • J. Frieman
  • D. E. Holz
  • A. Rest
  • M. Sako
  • M. Soares-Santos
  • V. A. Villar

Colleges, School and Institutes


We present Very Large Array (VLA) and Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) radio observations of GW170817, the first Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO)/Virgo gravitational wave (GW) event from a binary neutron star merger and the first GW event with an electromagnetic (EM) counterpart. Our data include the first observations following the discovery of the optical transient at both the centimeter (13.7 hr post-merger) and millimeter (2.41 days post-merger) bands. We detect faint emission at 6 GHz at 19.47 and 39.23 days after the merger, but not in an earlier observation at 2.46 days. We do not detect cm/mm emission at the position of the optical counterpart at frequencies of 10-97.5 GHz at times ranging from 0.6 to 30 days post-merger, ruling out an on-axis short gamma-ray burst (SGRB) for energies ≳ {10}48 erg. For fiducial SGRB parameters, our limits require an observer viewer angle of ≳20°. The radio and X-ray data can be jointly explained as the afterglow emission from an SGRB with a jet energy of ̃ {10}49{--}{10}50 erg that exploded in a uniform density environment with ñ {10}-4{--}{10}-2 cm-3, viewed at an angle of ̃20°-40° from the jet axis. Using the results of our light curve and spectral modeling, in conjunction with the inference of the circumbinary density, we predict the emergence of late-time radio emission from the deceleration of the kilonova (KN) ejecta on a timescale of ̃5-10 years that will remain detectable for decades with next-generation radio facilities, making GW170817 a compelling target for long-term radio monitoring....


Original languageEnglish
Article numberL21
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2017


  • gravitational waves, relativistic processes