Recent years witnessed a blossoming of multi-messenger astrophysics, in which gravitational waves (GWs), neutrinos, and photons provide complementary views of the universe and its most enigmatic objects, such as black holes (BHs) and neutron stars (NSs). The staggering dataset collected for the compact binary merger GW170817 -- including fundamental contribution by the PI -- showed the tremendous discovery potential of this field, which will unfold in the years ahead of us. The global network of interferometers will progressively sharpen its view of the gravitational wave sky and could soon allow us to see a new kind of light, arising from the encounter of a NS with a stellar mass BH. At the same time, wide-field gamma-ray instruments will continue to pinpoint these violent collisions in distant galaxies, and sensitive all-sky surveys might soon reveal the collision aftermath without the aid of gravitational or gamma-ray alerts. On the verge of a transformational era in the study of transients, I propose a cutting-edge investigation of compact binary mergers harnessing the unprecedented wealth of multi-messenger and multi-wavelength data. By combining a vigorous observational program with theoretical research at the forefront, this project will allow my team to fully exploit the discovery potential of a vastly uncharted territory and tackle the following emerging questions. Do all compact binary mergers launch relativistic jets? Are they the primary cosmic source of heavy metals? What are the properties of cold ultra-dense matter, and how do they affect the observed light? Can we use these mergers for precision cosmology? Stemming from the PI’s pioneering results, BHianca is uniquely positioned to timely address these central questions, and lead to seminal results in the nascent field of multi-messenger astronomy.
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