Supernova and Prompt Gravitational-wave Precursors to LIGO Gravitational-wave Sources and Short GRBs

Erez Michaely, Hagai B. Perets

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Binary black holes (BBHs) and binary neutron stars (BNSs) mergers have been recently detected through their gravitational-wave (GW) emission. A post-merger electromagnetic counterpart for the first BNS merger has been detected from seconds up to weeks after the merger. While such post-merger electromagnetic counterparts had been anticipated theoretically, far fewer electromagnetic precursors to GW sources have been proposed, and non have been observed. Here we show that a fraction of a few ×10-3 (for a standard model) GW sources and short gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) observed by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) could have been preceded by supernova (SN) explosions from years up to decades before the mergers. The GW sources are produced following the preceding binary evolution, the supernovae involved in the final formation of the GW source progenitors, and the natal kicks that likely accompany them. Together, these determine the orbits of surviving binaries, and hence the delay-time between the birth of the compact binary and its final merger through GW emission. We use data from binary evolution population-synthesis models to show that the delay-time distribution has a non-negligible tail of ultra-short delay-times between 1 and 100 years, thereby giving rise to potentially observable supernovae precursors to GW sources. Moreover, future LISA/DECIGO GW space-detectors will enable the detection of GW inspirals in the pre-merger stage weeks to decades before the final merger. These sources could therefore produce a unique type of promptly appearing LISA/DECIGO GW sources accompanied by coincident supernovae. The archival (and/or direct) detection of precursor (coincident) SNe with GW and/or short GRBs will provide unprecedented characterizations of the merging binaries, and their prior evolution through supernovae and natal kicks, otherwise inaccessible through other means.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL12
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • binaries: general
  • gamma-ray burst: general
  • gravitational waves

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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