Presentation #302.01 in the session “Laboratory Astrophysics Division (LAD): Fundamental Nuclear and Atomic Data for Compact Objects”.
Neutron star mergers serve as unique laboratories to study the launching of relativistic jets, the production of heavy elements, the emission of gravitational waves, and importantly, the unknown. This field has been in rapid transformation, driven by the 2017 discovery of the first neutron star merger by gravitational waves, GW170817. Short gamma-ray bursts are energetic, jetted explosions which originate from neutron star mergers at cosmological distances. They represent a large and diverse population of mergers, and provide a complementary way to probe merger formation, evolution, and outcomes. In this talk, I will focus on kilonova emission from short GRBs, optical and infrared signatures of heavy element production. I will highlight a few recent results from multi-wavelength observational campaigns of short gamma-ray bursts and gravitational wave events, which include the discovery of a luminous kilonova in a short GRB, potentially signaling the birth of a magnetar or extreme radioactive heating rates.