Multi-messenger astrophysics, a long-anticipated extension to traditional multiwavelength astronomy, has emerged over the past decade as a distinct discipline providing unique and valuable insights into the properties and processes of the physical Universe. These insights arise from the inherently complementary information carried by photons, gravitational waves, neutrinos and cosmic rays about individual cosmic sources and source populations. This complementarity is the reason why multi-messenger astrophysics is much more than just the sum of the parts. In this Review article, we survey the current status of multi-messenger astrophysics, highlighting some exciting results, and discussing the major follow-up questions they have raised. Key recent achievements include the measurement of the spectrum of ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays out to the highest observable energies; the discovery of the diffuse high-energy neutrino background; the first direct detections of gravitational waves and the use of gravitational waves to characterize merging black holes and neutron stars in strong-field gravity; and the identification of the first joint electromagnetic plus gravitational wave and electromagnetic plus high-energy neutrino multi-messenger sources. We discuss the rationales for the next generation of multi-messenger observatories, and outline a vision of the most likely future directions for this exciting and rapidly growing field.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)