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Neutron star mergers: past, present and future

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Compact binary mergers involving neutron stars have long been thought to be the likely progenitors of short-duration GRBs, and have increasingly been posited as the dominant site of heavy r-process nucleosynthesis in the universe. The recent LIGO /Virgo discovery of the binary neutron star merger GW170817 and its electromagnetic counterpart represent a landmark in multimessenger astronomy, and provide important insights into these long-standing issues. I will review (at least some of) the key findings and indicate future directions for the field.

This talk is part of the Institute of Astronomy Colloquia series.

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