In 2017, the LIGO and Virgo gravitational-wave (GW) detectors, in conjunction with electromagnetic (EM) astronomers, observed the first GW multimessenger astrophysical event, the binary neutron star (BNS) merger GW170817. This marked the beginning of a new era in multimessenger astrophysics. To discover further GW multimessenger events, we explore the synergies between the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and GW observations triggered by the LIGO–Virgo–KAGRA Collaboration (LVK) detector network. TESS's extremely wide field of view (∼2300 deg2) means that it could overlap with large swaths of GW localizations, which often span hundreds of square degrees or more. In this work, we use a recently developed transient detection pipeline to search TESS data collected during the LVK’s third observing run, O3, for any EM counterparts. We find no obvious counterparts brighter than about 17th magnitude in the TESS bandpass. Additionally, we present end-to-end simulations of BNS mergers, including their detection in GWs and simulations of light curves, to identify TESS's kilonova discovery potential for the LVK's next observing run (O4). In the most optimistic case, TESS will observe up to one GW-found BNS merger counterpart per year. However, TESS may also find up to five kilonovae that did not trigger the LVK network, emphasizing that EM-triggered GW searches may play a key role in future kilonova detections. We also discuss how TESS can help place limits on EM emission from binary black hole mergers and rapidly exclude large sky areas for poorly localized GW events.
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- Living Reviews in Relativity
- Medium: X
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- National Science Foundation
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