On non-detection of gamma-ray bursts in three compact binary merger events detected by LIGO

Luyanda Mazwi, Soebur Razzaque, Lutendo Nyadzani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The joint detection of the gravitational wave (GW) event GW170817 and the short-duration gamma-ray burst (SGRB) event GRB 170817A, marked the beginning of GW multimessenger astronomy and confirmed that binary neutron star mergers are progenitors of at least some SGRBs. An estimated joint detection rate of 0.3-1.7 per year between the LIGO-Hanford, LIGO-Livingston, and Virgo GW network at design sensitivity, and the Fermi Gamma-ray Burst Monitor was predicted. However, to date, the GW170817/GRB 170817A joint detection has been the only event of its kind so far. Taking into account that SGRBs are narrowly beamed and are emitted perpendicular to the orbital plane of the binary system, we propose that previous mergers involving neutron stars, were orientated such that observation of the emitted SGRB along this narrow jet was not possible. To support this hypothesis we have estimated the inclination of the binary systems for previously detected Binary Neutron Star (BNS) and Black Hole Neutron Star (BHNS) mergers through GW analysis. This analysis was performed using bilby, a python based Bayesian inference library, to estimate the inclination of the BNS events GW170817 and GW190425, and the BHNS events GW190917_114630 and GW200115_042309. The results obtained in this study indicate that these binaries may have had inclinations greater than 33° with respect to the line of sight from Earth, an upper limit on the viewing angle set from observations of GRB 170817A. This then suggests that the observation of the emitted SGRB from these past mergers might not have been possible.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2162-2167
Number of pages6
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2024


  • gamma-ray burst: general
  • gravitational waves
  • methods: data analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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