Multimessenger Astrophysics

Multimessenger astrophysics represents an emerging approach to studying the Universe, leveraging multiple cosmic “messengers” to gather information about astronomical events. These messengers include electromagnetic radiation, gravitational waves, neutrinos, and cosmic rays. By simultaneously detecting these diverse signals from a single event, we can achieve a more holistic understanding of astrophysical processes, as each messenger provides a unique perspective and probes different physical processes. 

A prime example of multimessenger astrophysics in action was the 2017 detection of a neutron star-neutron star merger. Observatories detected not only the gravitational waves produced by the merger, but also electromagnetic emission from radio waves to gamma-rays (the latter in the form of a gamma-ray burst), providing a multi-faceted view of the event. Such combined observations allow researchers to cross-verify findings, probe the physics underpinning these events, and open new windows into the universe’s mysteries. 

At Syracuse University, we use modeling alongside theory to probe the physics of multi-messenger events. Fundamental questions we attempt to address include the constituents of an observed merger event: for a given gravitational-wave/electromagnetic signature, what two objects (black hole-black hole, neutron star-neutron star, or neutron star-black hole) could have merged to generate that signature? We use numerical algorithms, alongside the theory of the tidal interaction (when one of the inspiraling objects is not a black hole) during the merger, to produce statistical answers to questions such as these, and thus make inferences about the properties of merging compact objects – and thus the distribution of, for example, stellar mass black holes – throughout the Universe. 

The observation of a merging neutron star binary.

Image [LVC (, LVC (]:

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