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  1. Abstract We present a comprehensive analysis of 653 optical candidate counterparts reported during the third gravitational-wave (GW) observing run. Our sample concentrates on candidates from the 15 events (published in GWTC-2, GWTC-3, or not retracted on GraceDB) that had a >1% chance of including a neutron star in order to assess their viability as true kilonovae. In particular, we leverage tools available in real time, including pre-merger detections and cross-matching with catalogs (i.e., point-source, variable-star, quasar and host-galaxy redshift data sets), to eliminate 65% of candidates in our sample. We further employ spectroscopic classifications, late-time detections, and light-curve behavior analysesmore »and conclude that 66 candidates remain viable kilonovae. These candidates lack sufficient information to determine their classifications, and the majority would require luminosities greater than that of AT 2017gfo. Pre-merger detections in public photometric survey data and comparison of cataloged host-galaxy redshifts with the GW event distances are critical to incorporate into vetting procedures, as these tools eliminated >20% and >30% of candidates, respectively. We expect that such tools that leverage archival information will significantly reduce the strain on spectroscopic and photometric follow-up resources in future observing runs. Finally, we discuss the critical role prompt updates from GW astronomers to the EM community play in reducing the number of candidates requiring vetting.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  2. Abstract GW190814 was a compact object binary coalescence detected in gravitational waves by Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo that garnered exceptional community interest due to its excellent localization and the uncertain nature of the binary’s lighter-mass component (either the heaviest known neutron star, or the lightest known black hole). Despite extensive follow-up observations, no electromagnetic counterpart has been identified. Here, we present new radio observations of 75 galaxies within the localization volume at Δ t ≈ 35–266 days post-merger. Our observations cover ∼32% of the total stellar luminosity in the final localization volume and extend to later timescales than previouslymore »reported searches, allowing us to place the deepest constraints to date on the existence of a radio afterglow from a highly off-axis relativistic jet launched during the merger (assuming that the merger occurred within the observed area). For a viewing angle of ∼46° (the best-fit binary inclination derived from the gravitational wave signal) and assumed electron and magnetic field energy fractions of ϵ e = 0.1 and ϵ B = 0.01, we can rule out a typical short gamma-ray burst-like Gaussian jet with an opening angle of 15° and isotropic-equivalent kinetic energy 2 × 10 51 erg propagating into a constant-density medium n ≳ 0.1 cm −3 . These are the first limits resulting from a galaxy-targeted search for a radio counterpart to a gravitational wave event, and we discuss the challenges—and possible advantages—of applying similar search strategies to future events using current and upcoming radio facilities.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
  3. Abstract For the first ∼3 yrs after the binary neutron star merger event GW 170817, the radio and X-ray radiation has been dominated by emission from a structured relativistic off-axis jet propagating into a low-density medium with n < 0.01 cm −3 . We report on observational evidence for an excess of X-ray emission at δt > 900 days after the merger. With L x ≈ 5 × 10 38 erg s −1 at 1234 days, the recently detected X-ray emission represents a ≥3.2 σ (Gaussian equivalent) deviation from the universal post-jet-break model that best fits the multiwavelength afterglow atmore »earlier times. In the context of JetFit afterglow models, current data represent a departure with statistical significance ≥3.1 σ , depending on the fireball collimation, with the most realistic models showing excesses at the level of ≥3.7 σ . A lack of detectable 3 GHz radio emission suggests a harder broadband spectrum than the jet afterglow. These properties are consistent with the emergence of a new emission component such as synchrotron radiation from a mildly relativistic shock generated by the expanding merger ejecta, i.e., a kilonova afterglow. In this context, we present a set of ab initio numerical relativity binary neutron star (BNS) merger simulations that show that an X-ray excess supports the presence of a high-velocity tail in the merger ejecta, and argues against the prompt collapse of the merger remnant into a black hole. Radiation from accretion processes on the compact-object remnant represents a viable alternative. Neither a kilonova afterglow nor accretion-powered emission have been observed before, as detections of BNS mergers at this phase of evolution are unprecedented.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
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  6. ABSTRACT We present and discuss the optical spectrophotometric observations of the nearby (z = 0.087) Type I superluminous supernova (SLSN I) SN 2017gci, whose peak K-corrected absolute magnitude reaches Mg = −21.5 mag. Its photometric and spectroscopic evolution includes features of both slow- and of fast-evolving SLSN I, thus favoring a continuum distribution between the two SLSN-I subclasses. In particular, similarly to other SLSNe I, the multiband light curves (LCs) of SN 2017gci show two re-brightenings at about 103 and 142 d after the maximum light. Interestingly, this broadly agrees with a broad emission feature emerging around 6520 Å after ∼51 d from themore »maximum light, which is followed by a sharp knee in the LC. If we interpret this feature as Hα, this could support the fact that the bumps are the signature of late interactions of the ejecta with a (hydrogen-rich) circumstellar material. Then we fitted magnetar- and CSM-interaction-powered synthetic LCs on to the bolometric one of SN 2017gci. In the magnetar case, the fit suggests a polar magnetic field Bp ≃ 6 × 1014 G, an initial period of the magnetar Pinitial ≃ 2.8 ms, an ejecta mass $M_{\rm ejecta}\simeq 9\, \mathrm{M}_\odot $ and an ejecta opacity $\kappa \simeq 0.08\, \mathrm{cm}^{2}\, \rm{g}^{-1}$. A CSM-interaction scenario would imply a CSM mass $\simeq 5\, \mathrm{M}_\odot $ and an ejecta mass $\simeq 12\, \mathrm{M}_\odot $. Finally, the nebular spectrum of phase  + 187 d was modeled, deriving a mass of $\sim 10\, {\rm M}_\odot$ for the ejecta. Our models suggest that either a magnetar or CSM interaction might be the power sources for SN 2017gci and that its progenitor was a massive ($40\, {\rm M}_\odot$) star.« less
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