skip to main content

Title: Target-of-opportunity Observations of Gravitational-wave Events with Vera C. Rubin Observatory
Abstract

The discovery of the electromagnetic counterpart to the binary neutron star (NS) merger GW170817 has opened the era of gravitational-wave multimessenger astronomy. Rapid identification of the optical/infrared kilonova enabled a precise localization of the source, which paved the way to deep multiwavelength follow-up and its myriad of related science results. Fully exploiting this new territory of exploration requires the acquisition of electromagnetic data from samples of NS mergers and other gravitational-wave sources. After GW170817, the frontier is now to map the diversity of kilonova properties and provide more stringent constraints on the Hubble constant, and enable new tests of fundamental physics. The Vera C. Rubin Observatory’s Legacy Survey of Space and Time can play a key role in this field in the 2020s, when an improved network of gravitational-wave detectors is expected to reach a sensitivity that will enable the discovery of a high rate of merger events involving NSs (∼tens per year) out to distances of several hundred megaparsecs. We design comprehensive target-of-opportunity observing strategies for follow-up of gravitational-wave triggers that will make the Rubin Observatory the premier instrument for discovery and early characterization of NS and other compact-object mergers, and yet unknown classes of gravitational-wave events.

Authors:
; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; more » ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; « less
Award ID(s):
1907975 2221789 2224255 1944985 1909796 1911206
Publication Date:
NSF-PAR ID:
10367054
Journal Name:
The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series
Volume:
260
Issue:
1
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
Article No. 18
ISSN:
0067-0049
Publisher:
DOI PREFIX: 10.3847
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. ABSTRACT

    GW170817 showed that neutron star mergers not only emit gravitational waves but also can release electromagnetic signatures in multiple wavelengths. Within the first half of the third observing run of the Advanced LIGO and Virgo detectors, there have been a number of gravitational wave candidates of compact binary systems for which at least one component is potentially a neutron star. In this article, we look at the candidates S190425z, S190426c, S190510g, S190901ap, and S190910h, predicted to have potentially a non-zero remnant mass, in more detail. All these triggers have been followed up with extensive campaigns by the astronomical community doing electromagnetic searches for their optical counterparts; however, according to the released classification, there is a high probability that some of these events might not be of extraterrestrial origin. Assuming that the triggers are caused by a compact binary coalescence and that the individual source locations have been covered during the EM follow-up campaigns, we employ three different kilonova models and apply them to derive possible constraints on the matter ejection consistent with the publicly available gravitational-wave trigger information and the lack of a kilonova detection. These upper bounds on the ejecta mass can be related to limits on themore »maximum mass of the binary neutron star candidate S190425z and to constraints on the mass-ratio, spin, and NS compactness for the potential black hole–neutron star candidate S190426c. Our results show that deeper electromagnetic observations for future gravitational wave events near the horizon limit of the advanced detectors are essential.

    « less
  2. Abstract

    Current and future optical and near-infrared wide-field surveys have the potential to find kilonovae, the optical and infrared counterparts to neutron star mergers, independently of gravitational-wave or high-energy gamma-ray burst triggers. The ability to discover fast and faint transients such as kilonovae largely depends on the area observed, the depth of those observations, the number of revisits per field in a given time frame, and the filters adopted by the survey; it also depends on the ability to perform rapid follow-up observations to confirm the nature of the transients. In this work, we assess kilonova detectability in existing simulations of the Legacy Survey of Space and Time strategy for the Vera C. Rubin Wide Fast Deep survey, with focus on comparing rolling to baseline cadences. Although currently available cadences can enable the detection of >300 kilonovae out to ∼1400 Mpc over the 10 year survey, we can expect only 3–32 kilonovae similar to GW170817 to be recognizable as fast-evolving transients. We also explore the detectability of kilonovae over the plausible parameter space, focusing on viewing angle and ejecta masses. We find that observations in redderizybands are crucial for identification of nearby (within 300 Mpc) kilonovae that could be spectroscopicallymore »classified more easily than more distant sources. Rubin’s potential for serendipitous kilonova discovery could be increased by gain of efficiency with the employment of individual 30 s exposures (as opposed to 2 × 15 s snap pairs), with the addition of red-band observations coupled with same-night observations ingorrbands, and possibly with further development of a new rolling-cadence strategy.

    « less
  3. ABSTRACT

    Secure confirmation that a gravitational wave (GW) has been gravitationally lensed would bring together these two pillars of General Relativity for the first time. This breakthrough is challenging for many reasons, including: GW sky localization uncertainties dwarf the angular scale of gravitational lensing, the mass and structure of gravitational lenses is diverse, the mass function of stellar remnant compact objects is not yet well constrained, and GW detectors do not operate continuously. We introduce a new approach that is agnostic to the mass and structure of the lenses, compare the efficiency of different methods for lensed GW discovery, and explore detection of lensed kilonova counterparts as a direct method for localizing candidates. Our main conclusions are: (1) lensed neutron star mergers (NS–NS) are magnified into the ‘mass gap’ between NS and black holes, therefore selecting candidates from public GW alerts with high mass gap probability is efficient, (2) the rate of detectable lensed NS–NS will approach one per year in the mid-2020s, (3) the arrival time difference between lensed NS–NS images is $1\, \rm s\lesssim \Delta \mathit{ t}\lesssim 1\, yr$, and thus well-matched to the operations of GW detectors and optical telescopes, (4) lensed kilonova counterparts are faint atmore »peak (e.g. rAB ≃ 24–26 in the mid-2020s), fade quickly ($d\lt 2\, \rm d$), and are detectable with target of opportunity observations with large wide-field telescopes. For example, just ≲ 0.25 per cent of Vera C. Rubin Observatory’s observing time will be sufficient to follow up one well-localized candidate per year. Our predictions also provide a physically well-defined basis for exploring electromagnetically the exciting new ‘mass gap’ discovery space.

    « less
  4. 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
  5. While optical surveys regularly discover slow transients like supernovae on their own, the most common way to discover extragalactic fast transients, fading away in a few nights, is via follow-up observations of gamma-ray burst and gravitational-wave triggers. However, wide-field surveys have the potential to also identify rapidly fading transients independently of such external triggers. The volumetric survey speed of the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) makes it sensitive to faint and fast-fading objects as kilonovae, the optical counterparts to binary neutron stars and neutron star-black hole mergers, out to almost 200Mpc. We introduce an open-source software infrastructure, the ZTF REaltime Search and Triggering, ZTFReST, designed to identify kilonovae and fast optical transients in ZTF data. Using the ZTF alert stream combined with forced photometry, we have implemented automated candidate ranking based on their photometric evolution and fitting to kilonova models. Automated triggering of follow-up systems, such as Las Cumbres Observatory, has also been implemented. In 13 months of science validation, we found several extragalactic fast transients independent of any external trigger (though some counterparts were identified later), including at least one supernova with post-shock cooling emission, two known afterglows with an associated gamma-ray burst, two known afterglows without any known gamma-raymore »counterpart, and three new fast-declining sources (ZTF20abtxwfx, ZTF20acozryr, and ZTF21aagwbjr) that are likely associated with GRB200817A, GRB201103B, and GRB210204A. However, we have not found any objects which appear to be kilonovae; therefore, we constrain the rate of GW170817-like kilonovae to R<900Gpc−3yr−1. A framework such as ZTFReST could become a prime tool for kilonova and fast transient discovery with the Vera C. Rubin Observatory.« less