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Swope Supernova Survey 2017a (SSS17a), the optical counterpart to a gravitational wave source

Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), ISSN 0036-8075

Volume 358, 6370, 2017

DOI:10.1126/science.aap9811, Dimensions: pub.1092247860, PMID: 29038368,



  1. (1) University of California, Santa Cruz, grid.205975.c
  2. (2) Carnegie Observatories, grid.432988.c
  3. (3) University of Hawaii at Manoa, grid.410445.0
  4. (4) University of La Serena, grid.19208.32
  5. (5) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, grid.184769.5
  6. (6) University of California, Berkeley, grid.47840.3f
  7. (7) Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, The University of Chicago, 5640 South Ellis Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.
  8. (8) University of Copenhagen, grid.5254.6, KU
  9. (9) Johns Hopkins University, grid.21107.35
  10. (10) Space Telescope Science Institute, grid.419446.a


On 17 August 2017, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and the Virgo interferometer detected gravitational waves (GWs) emanating from a binary neutron star merger, GW170817. Nearly simultaneously, the Fermi and INTEGRAL (INTErnational Gamma-Ray Astrophysics Laboratory) telescopes detected a gamma-ray transient, GRB 170817A. At 10.9 hours after the GW trigger, we discovered a transient and fading optical source, Swope Supernova Survey 2017a (SSS17a), coincident with GW170817. SSS17a is located in NGC 4993, an S0 galaxy at a distance of 40 megaparsecs. The precise location of GW170817 provides an opportunity to probe the nature of these cataclysmic events by combining electromagnetic and GW observations.


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