Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
, 500 (7464), 547-9

A 'Kilonova' Associated With the Short-Duration γ-Ray Burst GRB 130603B


A 'Kilonova' Associated With the Short-Duration γ-Ray Burst GRB 130603B

N R Tanvir et al. Nature.


Short-duration γ-ray bursts are intense flashes of cosmic γ-rays, lasting less than about two seconds, whose origin is unclear. The favoured hypothesis is that they are produced by a relativistic jet created by the merger of two compact stellar objects (specifically two neutron stars or a neutron star and a black hole). This is supported by indirect evidence such as the properties of their host galaxies, but unambiguous confirmation of the model is still lacking. Mergers of this kind are also expected to create significant quantities of neutron-rich radioactive species, whose decay should result in a faint transient, known as a 'kilonova', in the days following the burst. Indeed, it is speculated that this mechanism may be the predominant source of stable r-process elements in the Universe. Recent calculations suggest that much of the kilonova energy should appear in the near-infrared spectral range, because of the high optical opacity created by these heavy r-process elements. Here we report optical and near-infrared observations that provide strong evidence for such an event accompanying the short-duration γ-ray burst GRB 130603B. If this, the simplest interpretation of the data, is correct, then it confirms that compact-object mergers are the progenitors of short-duration γ-ray bursts and the sites of significant production of r-process elements. It also suggests that kilonovae offer an alternative, unbeamed electromagnetic signature of the most promising sources for direct detection of gravitational waves.

Comment in

Similar articles

  • Kilonovae
    BD Metzger. Living Rev Relativ 23 (1), 1. PMID 31885490. - Review
    The coalescence of double neutron star (NS-NS) and black hole (BH)-NS binaries are prime sources of gravitational waves (GW) for Advanced LIGO/Virgo and future ground-based detectors. Neutron-rich matter released from such events undergoes rapid neutron capture (r-process) nucleosynthesis …
  • A Kilonova as the Electromagnetic Counterpart to a Gravitational-Wave Source
    SJ Smartt et al. Nature 551 (7678), 75-79. PMID 29094693.
    Gravitational waves were discovered with the detection of binary black-hole mergers and they should also be detectable from lower-mass neutron-star mergers. These are pre …
  • Origin of the Heavy Elements in Binary Neutron-Star Mergers From a Gravitational-Wave Event
    D Kasen et al. Nature 551 (7678), 80-84. PMID 29094687.
    The cosmic origin of elements heavier than iron has long been uncertain. Theoretical modelling shows that the matter that is expelled in the violent merger of two neutron …
  • Spectroscopic Identification of R-Process Nucleosynthesis in a Double Neutron-Star Merger
    E Pian et al. Nature 551 (7678), 67-70. PMID 29094694.
    The merger of two neutron stars is predicted to give rise to three major detectable phenomena: a short burst of γ-rays, a gravitational-wave signal, and a transient optic …
  • Kilonovae
    BD Metzger. Living Rev Relativ 20 (1), 3. PMID 28579916. - Review
    The mergers of double neutron star (NS-NS) and black hole (BH)-NS binaries are promising gravitational wave (GW) sources for Advanced LIGO and future GW detectors. The ne …
See all similar articles

Cited by 17 PubMed Central articles

See all "Cited by" articles


    1. Astrophys J. 1999 Nov 10;525(2):L121-L124 - PubMed
    1. Philos Trans A Math Phys Eng Sci. 2013 Apr 29;371(1992):20120275 - PubMed

LinkOut - more resources