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  1. Abstract

    The accretion disks of active galactic nuclei (AGNs) are promising locations for the merger of compact objects detected by gravitational wave (GW) observatories. Embedded within a baryon-rich, high-density environment, mergers within AGNs are the only GW channel where an electromagnetic (EM) counterpart must occur (whether detectable or not). Considering AGNs with unusual flaring activity observed by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), we describe a search for candidate EM counterparts to binary black hole (BBH) mergers detected by LIGO/Virgo in O3. After removing probable false positives, we find nine candidate counterparts to BBH mergers during O3 (seven in O3a, two in O3b) with ap-value of 0.0019. Based on ZTF sky coverage, AGN geometry, and merger geometry, we expect ≈3(NBBH/83)(fAGN/0.5) potentially detectable EM counterparts from O3, whereNBBHis the total number of observed BBH mergers andfAGNis the fraction originating in AGNs. Further modeling of breakout and flaring phenomena in AGN disks is required to reduce our false-positive rate. Two of the events are also associated with mergers with total masses >100M, which is the expected rate for O3 if hierarchical (large-mass) mergers occur in the AGN channel. Candidate EM counterparts in future GW observing runs can be better constrained by coverage ofmore »the Southern sky as well as spectral monitoring of unusual AGN flaring events in LIGO/Virgo alert volumes. A future set of reliable AGN EM counterparts to BBH mergers will yield an independent means of measuring cosmic expansion (H0) as a function of redshift.

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  2. Abstract

    The limiting temporal resolution of a time-domain survey in detecting transient behavior is set by the time between observations of the same sky area. We analyze the distribution of visit separations for a range of Vera C. Rubin Observatory cadence simulations. Simulations from families v1.5–v1.7.1 are strongly peaked at the 22 minute visit pair separation and provide effectively no constraint on temporal evolution within the night. This choice will necessarily prevent Rubin from discovering a wide range of astrophysical phenomena in time to trigger rapid follow-up. We present a science-agnostic metric to supplement detailed simulations of fast-evolving transients and variables and suggest potential approaches for improving the range of timescales explored.

  3. Abstract

    Among the supernovae (SNe) that show strong interaction with a circumstellar medium (CSM), there is a rare subclass of Type Ia supernovae, SNe Ia-CSM, which show strong narrow hydrogen emission lines much like SNe IIn but on top of a diluted Type Ia spectrum. The only previous systematic study of this class identified 16 SNe Ia-CSM, eight historic and eight from the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF). Now using the successor survey to PTF, the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), we have classified 12 additional SNe Ia-CSM through the systematic Bright Transient Survey (BTS). Consistent with previous studies, we find these SNe to have slowly evolving optical light curves with peak absolute magnitudes between −19.1 and −21, spectra having weak Hβand large Balmer decrements of ∼7. Out of the 10 SNe from our sample observed by NEOWISE, nine have 3σdetections, with some SNe showing a reduction in the red wing of Hα, indicative of newly formed dust. We do not find our SN Ia-CSM sample to have a significantly different distribution of equivalent widths of Heiλ5876 than SNe IIn as observed in Silverman et al. The hosts tend to be late-type galaxies with recent star formation. We derive a rate estimatemore »of2921+27Gpc−3yr−1for SNe Ia-CSM, which is ∼0.02%–0.2% of the SN Ia rate. We also identify six ambiguous SNe IIn/Ia-CSM in the BTS sample and including them gives an upper limit rate of 0.07%–0.8%. This work nearly doubles the sample of well-studied Ia-CSM objects in Silverman et al., increasing the total number to 28.

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    The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) performs a systematic neutrino follow-up programme, searching for optical counterparts to high-energy neutrinos with dedicated Target-of-Opportunity (ToO) observations. Since first light in March 2018, ZTF has taken prompt observations for 24 high-quality neutrino alerts from the IceCube Neutrino Observatory, with a median latency of 12.2 h from initial neutrino detection. From two of these campaigns, we have already reported tidal disruption event (TDE) AT 2019dsg and likely TDE AT 2019fdr as probable counterparts, suggesting that TDEs contribute >7.8 per cent of the astrophysical neutrino flux. We here present the full results of our programme through to December 2021. No additional candidate neutrino sources were identified by our programme, allowing us to place the first constraints on the underlying optical luminosity function of astrophysical neutrino sources. Transients with optical absolutes magnitudes brighter that −21 can contribute no more than 87 per cent of the total, while transients brighter than −22 can contribute no more than 58 per cent of the total, neglecting the effect of extinction and assuming they follow the star formation rate. These are the first observational constraints on the neutrino emission of bright populations such as superluminous supernovae. None of the neutrinos were coincident with brightmore »optical AGN flares comparable to that observed for TXS 0506+056/IC170922A, with such optical blazar flares producing no more than 26 per cent of the total neutrino flux. We highlight the outlook for electromagnetic neutrino follow-up programmes, including the expected potential for the Rubin Observatory.

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  5. In this work, we aimed to derive the gri-band period-luminosity (PL) and period-luminosity-color (PLC) relations for late-type contact binaries, for the first time, located in the globular clusters, using the homogeneous light curves collected by the Zwicky Transient Factory (ZTF). We started with 79 contact binaries in 15 globular clusters, and retained 30 contact binaries in 10 globular clusters that have adequate number of data points in the ZTF light curves and unaffected by blending. Magnitudes at mean and maximum light of these contact binaries were determined using a fourth-order Fourier expansion, while extinction corrections were done using the {\tt Bayerstar2019} 3D reddening map together with adopting the homogeneous distances to their host globular clusters. After removing early-type and "anomaly" contact binaries, our derived gri-band PL and period-Wesenheit (PW) relations exhibit a much larger dispersion with large errors on the fitted coefficients. Nevertheless, the gr-band PL and PW relations based on this small sample of contact binaries in globular clusters were consistent with those based on a larger sample of nearby contact binaries. Good agreements of the PL and PW relations suggested both samples of contact binaries in the local Solar neighborhood and in the distant globular clusters can bemore »combined and used to derive and calibrate the PL, PW and PLC relations. The final derived gr-band PL, PW and PLC relations were much improved than those based on the limited sample of contact binaries in the globular clusters.« less
  6. Abstract

    We present the discovery of a new double-detonation progenitor system consisting of a hot subdwarf B (sdB) binary with a white dwarf companion with aPorb= 76.34179(2) minutes orbital period. Spectroscopic observations are consistent with an sdB star during helium core burning residing on the extreme horizontal branch. Chimera light curves are dominated by ellipsoidal deformation of the sdB star and a weak eclipse of the companion white dwarf. Combining spectroscopic and light curve fits, we find a low-mass sdB star,MsdB= 0.383 ± 0.028Mwith a massive white dwarf companion,MWD= 0.725 ± 0.026M. From the eclipses we find a blackbody temperature for the white dwarf of 26,800 K resulting in a cooling age of ≈25 Myr whereas ourMESAmodel predicts an sdB age of ≈170 Myr. We conclude that the sdB formed first through stable mass transfer followed by a common envelope which led to the formation of the white dwarf companion ≈25 Myr ago. Using theMESAstellar evolutionary code we find that the sdB star will start mass transfer in ≈6 Myr and in ≈60 Myr the white dwarf will reach a total mass of 0.92Mwith a thick helium layer of 0.17M. This will lead to a detonation that will likely destroymore »the white dwarf in a peculiar thermonuclear supernova. PTF1 J2238+7430 is only the second confirmed candidate for a double-detonation thermonuclear supernova. Using both systems we estimate that at least ≈1% of white dwarf thermonuclear supernovae originate from sdB+WD binaries with thick helium layers, consistent with the small number of observed peculiar thermonuclear explosions.

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  7. 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.

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  8. In a search for eclipsing white dwarfs using the Zwicky Transient Facility lightcurves, we identified a deep eclipsing white dwarf with a dark, substellar companion. The lack of an infrared excess and an orbital period of 10 hours made this a potential exoplanet candidate. We obtained high-speed photometry and radial velocity measurements to characterize the system. The white dwarf has a mass of 0.50±0.02M⊙ and a temperature of 10900±200K. The companion has a mass of 0.059±0.004M⊙ and a small radius of 0.0783±0.0013R⊙. It is one of the smallest transiting brown dwarfs known and likely old, ≳8Gyr. The ZTF discovery efficiency of substellar objects transiting white dwarfs is limited by the number of epochs and as ZTF continues to collect data we expect to find more of these systems. This will allow us to measure period and mass distributions and allows us to understand the formation channels of white dwarfs with substellar companions.