ann17040 — Announcement

Artist’s impression of merging neutron stars
17 October 2017
IAU congratulates all teams involved in first observations of light from a gravitational wave source

The International Astronomical Union (IAU) enthusiastically congratulates the entire LIGO–Virgo collaboration, ESO, the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, the NASA Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, the ESA INTErnational Gamma Ray Astrophysics Laboratory teams and all other astronomers involved in one of the largest multi-telescope observing campaigns ever on the exceptional achievement of observing a direct and unequivocal detection of an electromagnetic counterpart — from gamma rays to infrared — of a new type of gravitational waves originating from the merger of two neutron stars[1].

The public announcement of these discoveries coincides with the award of the Nobel Prize in Physics this year to Rainer Weiss, Barry C. Barish and Kip S. Thorne “for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves”. It is nice to think that the Universe itself wished to congratulate the Nobel laureates by making this exceptional observational feat possible!

The planned projects for observing the gravitational waves from the ground and space will receive a tremendous boost by this pivotal, era-marking detection. The international teams that worked for years with patience and determination to finally achieve it deserve high recognition from the astronomy and the physics community. Let’s hope that other communities of complementary avenues in the quest for knowledge, like philosophy and art,will be stimulated by this fantastic achievement and collaborate in penetrating deeper and deeper into the wonders of our cosmos.

More information

The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 10 000 professional astronomers from almost 100 countries. Its mission is to promote and safeguard the science of astronomy in all its aspects through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world's largest professional body for astronomers.


[1] This discovery was published in several papers in the journal Nature and elsewhere.



Piero Benvenuti
General Secretary, International Astronomical Union
Paris, France
Tel: +33 1 43 25 83 58

Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Press Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 320 06 761
Cell: +49 173 38 72 621

About the Announcement



Artist’s impression of merging neutron stars