Shake, Rattle and Explode: Short GRBs and the Electromagnetic Counterparts of Gravitational Wave Sources

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The bimodality of gamma-ray burst (GRB) durations points
to distinct progenitor classes for the long- and short-duration GRBs. While the
progenitors of long-duration GRBs are now known to be massive stars, the
progenitors of short-duration GRBs remain unidentified. In this talk I will
discuss the discovery of short GRB afterglow and their host galaxies, detailed
studies of their environments from parsec to galactic scales, and studies of
their energetics and beaming. Taken together, these observations point to the
coalescence of NS-NS/NS-BH binaries as the most likely progenitors. With the
upcoming Advanced LIGO/VIRGO gravitational wave detectors it is therefore
possible that short GRBs will be the first detected sources, and I will discuss
various approaches to making this connection between gravitational wave and
electromagnetic sources.