On 17 August 2017 the US Laser Interferometer Graviational Wave Observatory (LIGO) detected gravitational waves produced by the merging of two neutron stars. Almost at the same time a gamma ray burst was detected by the gamma observatories Fermi and INTEGRAL. ESO and 70 other observatories immediately launched follow up observations in the optical, infrared, sub-millimeter and radio wavelengths.
As a result we now not only know the masses of the participating neutron stars involved, but also the precice position of the event, the light-curve, and we now have a confirmation that heavy elements are formed in the so called r-process in such mergers.
The recent detections of gravitational waves not only were awarded with this year’s Nobel prize, but it also opens up completely new pathways for collaborations between astronomers exploiting the electromagnetic spectrum and gravitation wave astronomers. A very active group of radio astronomers are searching for gravitational waves using an alternative method, namely from time delays of pulsars in different directions. Read more about this here here. This allows the detection of gravitational waves with a very low frequency (10-6 to 10-9 Hz) as they are expected to be emitted by merging super massive black holes and is therefore a complementary method to earth bound gravitational wave detectors.
Read more on the topic in the ESO press release 1733