skip to main content

Title: The wide-field infrared transient explorer (WINTER)
The Wide-Field Infrared Transient Explorer (WINTER) is a new infrared time-domain survey instrument which will be deployed on a dedicated 1 meter robotic telescope at the Palomar Observatory. WINTER will perform a seeing-limited time domain survey of the infrared (IR) sky, with a particular emphasis on identifying r -process material in binary neutron star (BNS) merger remnants detected by LIGO. We describe the scientific goals and survey design of the WINTER instrument. With a dedicated trigger and the ability to map the full LIGO O4 positional error contour in the IR to a distance of 190 Mpc within four hours, WINTER will be a powerful kilonova discovery engine and tool for multi-messenger astrophysics investigations. In addition to follow-up observations of merging binaries, WINTER will facilitate a wide range of time-domain astronomical observations, all the while building up a deep coadded image of the static infrared sky suitable for survey science. WINTER's custom camera features six commercial large-format Indium Gallium Arsenide (InGaAs) sensors and a tiled optical system which covers a <1-square-degree field of view with 90% fill factor. The instrument observes in Y, J and a short-H (Hs) band tuned to the long-wave cutoff of the InGaAs sensors, covering a more » wavelength range from 0.9 - 1.7 microns. We present the design of the WINTER instrument and current progress towards final integration at the Palomar Observatory and commissioning planned for mid-2021. « less
Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;
Editors:
Evans, Christopher J.; Bryant, Julia J.; Motohara, Kentaro
Award ID(s):
1828470
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10210883
Journal Name:
X-Ray, Optical, and Infrared Detectors for Astronomy IX
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
55
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Evans, Christopher J. ; Bryant, Julia J. ; Motohara, Kentaro (Ed.)
    The Wide-Field Infrared Transient Explorer (WINTER) is a new infrared time-domain survey instrument on a dedicated 1 meter robotic telescope at the Palomar Observatory. WINTER will perform the first seeing-limited time domain survey of the infrared (IR) sky, with a particular emphasis on identifying r-process material in binary neutron star (BNS) merger remnants detected by LIGO. We have developed and tested a custom opto-mechanical mounting scheme for a 6-channel tiled optical system with <90% fill factor. Here, we present the mechanical design and testing approach used in the development of WINTER.
  2. Evans, Christopher J. ; Bryant, Julia J. ; Motohara, Kentaro (Ed.)
    The Wide-field Infrared Transient Explorer (WINTER) is a 1x1 degree infrared survey telescope under devel- opment at MIT and Caltech, and slated for commissioning at Palomar Observatory in 2021. WINTER is a seeing-limited infrared time-domain survey and has two main science goals: (1) the discovery of IR kilonovae and r-process materials from binary neutron star mergers and (2) the study of general IR transients, including supernovae, tidal disruption events, and transiting exoplanets around low mass stars. We plan to meet these science goals with technologies that are relatively new to astrophysical research: hybridized InGaAs sensors as an alternative to traditional, but expensive, HgCdTe arrays and an IR-optimized 1-meter COTS telescope. To mitigate risk, optimize development efforts, and ensure that WINTER meets its science objectives, we use model-based systems engineering (MBSE) techniques commonly featured in aerospace engineering projects. Even as ground-based instrumentation projects grow in complexity, they do not often have the budget for a full-time systems engineer. We present one example of systems engineering for the ground-based WINTER project, featuring software tools that allow students or staff to learn the fundamentals of MBSE and capture the results in a formalized software interface. We focus on the top-level science requirements withmore »a detailed example of how the goal of detecting kilonovae flows down to WINTER's optical design. In particular, we discuss new methods for tolerance simulations, eliminating stray light, and maximizing image quality of a fly's-eye design that slices the telescope's focus onto 6 non-buttable, IR detectors. We also include a discussion of safety constraints for a robotic telescope.« less
  3. Abstract

    The Wide-Field Infrared Transient Explorer (WINTER) is a new 1 deg2seeing-limited time-domain survey instrument designed for dedicated near-infrared follow-up of kilonovae from binary neutron star (BNS) and neutron star–black hole mergers. WINTER will observe in the near-infraredY,J, and short-Hbands (0.9–1.7μm, toJAB= 21 mag) on a dedicated 1 m telescope at Palomar Observatory. To date, most prompt kilonova follow-up has been in optical wavelengths; however, near-infrared emission fades more slowly and depends less on geometry and viewing angle than optical emission. We present an end-to-end simulation of a follow-up campaign during the fourth observing run (O4) of the LIGO, Virgo, and KAGRA interferometers, including simulating 625 BNS mergers, their detection in gravitational waves, low-latency and full parameter estimation skymaps, and a suite of kilonova lightcurves from two different model grids. We predict up to five new kilonovae independently discovered by WINTER during O4, given a realistic BNS merger rate. Using a larger grid of kilonova parameters, we find that kilonova emission is ≈2 times longer lived and red kilonovae are detected ≈1.5 times further in the infrared than in the optical. For 90% localization areas smaller than 150 (450) deg2, WINTER will be sensitive to more than 10% of themore »kilonova model grid out to 350 (200) Mpc. We develop a generalized toolkit to create an optimal BNS follow-up strategy with any electromagnetic telescope and present WINTER’s observing strategy with this framework. This toolkit, all simulated gravitational-wave events, and skymaps are made available for use by the community.

    « less
  4. Holland, Andrew D. ; Beletic, James (Ed.)
    We present the InGaAs detector system of the Wide-Field Infrared Transient Explorer (WINTER), a new infrared instrument operating on a 1 meter robotic telescope at the Palomar Observatory. These commercially produced sensors are cooled to -50 °C by a thermo-electric cooler integrated into a room temperature package. These warm InGaAs sensors represent a dramatic reduction in cost and complexity over HgCdTe systems and achieve sky background-limited performance across our science bands for exposures greater than a few seconds. We present the design and implementation of the WINTER detector system and readout electronics.
  5. Abstract The nova rate in the Milky Way remains largely uncertain, despite its vital importance in constraining models of Galactic chemical evolution as well as understanding progenitor channels for Type Ia supernovae. The rate has been previously estimated to be in the range of ≈10–300 yr −1 , either based on extrapolations from a handful of very bright optical novae or the nova rates in nearby galaxies; both methods are subject to debatable assumptions. The total discovery rate of optical novae remains much smaller (≈5–10 yr −1 ) than these estimates, even with the advent of all-sky optical time-domain surveys. Here, we present a systematic sample of 12 spectroscopically confirmed Galactic novae detected in the first 17 months of Palomar Gattini-IR (PGIR), a wide-field near-infrared time-domain survey. Operating in the J band (≈1.2 μ m), which is significantly less affected by dust extinction compared to optical bands, the extinction distribution of the PGIR sample is highly skewed to a large extinction values (>50% of events obscured by A V ≳ 5 mag). Using recent estimates for the distribution of Galactic mass and dust, we show that the extinction distribution of the PGIR sample is commensurate with dust models. The PGIRmore »extinction distribution is inconsistent with that reported in previous optical searches (null-hypothesis probability <0.01%), suggesting that a large population of highly obscured novae have been systematically missed in previous optical searches. We perform the first quantitative simulation of a 3 π time-domain survey to estimate the Galactic nova rate using PGIR, and derive a rate of ≈ 43.7 − 8.7 + 19.5 yr −1 . Our results suggest that all-sky near-infrared time-domain surveys are well poised to uncover the Galactic nova population.« less