Exploring Nuclear Physics with Gravitational Waves

Dr. David Neilsen
Department of Physics and Astronomy
Brigham Young University


A binary neutron star system is an interesting laboratory to learn new physics. Through the emission of gravitational waves, the system loses energy and momentum, leading to a slow inspiral and eventual merger. The details of the merger depend sensitively on the nuclear equation of state, from the mass-radius relation of the individual neutron stars, to whether or not the stars are tidally disrupted before merger, to the end-state of the merger, a hyper-massive neutron star or a black hole. Energy released in the merger can power a variety of electromagnetic emissions, from short, hard gamma-ray bursts and jets, to r-process emission in the neutron-rich ejecta. In this talk I will discuss some ways we can combine gravitational wave and astronomical observations to learn more about neutron stars, their equation of state, and nuclear physics.