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Short Gamma-Ray Bursts and the Electromagnetic Counterparts of Gravitational Wave Sources

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Gamma-ray bursts are
the most luminous and energetic explosions known in the universe.  They
appear in two varieties:  long- and short-duration.  The long GRB
result from the core-collapse of massive stars, but until recently the origin
of the short GRBs was shrouded in mystery.  In this talk I will present
several lines of evidence that point to the merger of compact objects binaries
(NS-NS and/or NS-BH) as the progenitor systems of short GRBs.  Within this
framework, the observational data also allow us to independently determine the
merger rate of these systems as input to the Advanced LIGO event rate, to infer
the merger distribution timescale, and to determine the energy scale of the
mergers.  In addition, using radio to X-ray observations of short GRBs we
can determine the expected electromagnetic properties of Advanced LIGO sources.