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Creators/Authors contains: "Fryer, Christopher L."

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  1. Abstract

    Kilonovae are ultraviolet, optical, and infrared transients powered by the radioactive decay of heavy elements following a neutron star merger. Joint observations of kilonovae and gravitational waves can offer key constraints on the source of Galacticr-process enrichment, among other astrophysical topics. However, robust constraints on heavy element production require rapid kilonova detection (within ∼1 day of merger) as well as multiwavelength observations across multiple epochs. In this study, we quantify the ability of 13 wide-field-of-view instruments to detect kilonovae, leveraging a large grid of over 900 radiative transfer simulations with 54 viewing angles per simulation. We consider both current and upcoming instruments, collectively spanning the full kilonova spectrum. The Roman Space Telescope has the highest redshift reach of any instrument in the study, observing kilonovae out toz∼ 1 within the first day post-merger. We demonstrate that BlackGEM, DECam, GOTO, the Vera C. Rubin Observatory’s LSST, ULTRASAT, VISTA, and WINTER can observe some kilonovae out toz∼ 0.1 (∼475 Mpc), while DDOTI, MeerLICHT, PRIME, Swift/UVOT, and ZTF are confined to more nearby observations. Furthermore, we provide a framework to infer kilonova ejecta properties following nondetections and explore variation in detectability with these ejecta parameters.

  2. Abstract

    The detailed observations of GW170817 proved for the first time directly that neutron star mergers are a major production site of heavy elements. The observations could be fit by a number of simulations that qualitatively agree, but can quantitatively differ (e.g., in total r-process mass) by an order of magnitude. We categorize kilonova ejecta into several typical morphologies motivated by numerical simulations, and apply a radiative transfer Monte Carlo code to study how the geometric distribution of the ejecta shapes the emitted radiation. We find major impacts on both spectra and light curves. The peak bolometric luminosity can vary by two orders of magnitude and the timing of its peak by a factor of five. These findings provide the crucial implication that the ejecta masses inferred from observations around the peak brightness are uncertain by at least an order of magnitude. Mixed two-component models with lanthanide-rich ejecta are particularly sensitive to geometric distribution. A subset of mixed models shows very strong viewing angle dependence due to lanthanide “curtaining,” which persists even if the relative mass of lanthanide-rich component is small. The angular dependence is weak in the rest of our models, but different geometric combinations of the two componentsmore »lead to a highly diverse set of light curves. We identify geometry-dependent P Cygni features in late spectra that directly map out strong lines in the simulated opacity of neodymium, which can help to constrain the ejecta geometry and to directly probe the r-process abundances.

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