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  1. 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 ofmore »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.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2023
  2. Using Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) observations, we identify a pair of "sibling" Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia), i.e., hosted by the same galaxy at z = 0.0541. They exploded within 200 days from each other at a separation of 0.6″ corresponding to a projected distance of only 0.6 kpc. Performing SALT2 light curve fits to the gri ZTF photometry, we show that for these equally distant "standardizable candles", there is a difference of 2 magnitudes in their rest frame B-band peaks, and the fainter SN has a significantly red SALT2 colour c=0.57± 0.04, while the stretch values x1 of themore »two SNe are similar, suggesting that the fainter SN is attenuated by dust in the interstellar medium of the host galaxy. We use these measurements to infer the SALT2 colour standardization parameter, β = 3.5 ± 0.3, independent of the underlying cosmology and Malmquist bias. Assuming the colour excess is entirely due to dust, the result differs by 2σ from the average Milky-Way total-to-selective extinction ratio, but is in good agreement with the colour-brightness corrections empirically derived from the most recent SN Ia Hubble-Lemaitre diagram fits. Thus we suggest that SN "siblings", which will increasingly be discovered in the coming years, can be used to probe the validity of the colour and lightcurve shape corrections using in SN Ia cosmology while avoiding important systematic effects in their inference from global multi-parameter fits to inhomogeneous data-sets, and also help constrain the role of interstellar dust in SN Ia cosmology.« less
  3. 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 Searchmore »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-ray 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

    The existence of cosmic superstrings may be probed by astronomical time domain surveys. When crossing the line of sight to point-like sources, strings produce a distinctive microlensing signature. We consider two avenues to hunt for a relic population of superstring loops: frequent monitoring of (1) stars in Andromeda, lensed by loops in the haloes of the Milky-Way and Andromeda and (2) supernovae at cosmological distances, lensed by loops in the intergalactic medium. We assess the potential of such experiments to detect and/or constrain strings with a range of tensions, 10−15 ≲ Gμ/c2 ≲ 10−6. The practical sensitivity is tiedmore »to cadence of observations which we explore in detail. We forecast that high-cadence monitoring of ∼105 stars on the far side of Andromeda over a year-long period will detect microlensing events if Gμ/c2 ∼ 10−13, while ∼106 stars will detect events if 10−13.5 < Gμ/c2 < 10−11.5; the upper and lower bounds of the accessible tension range continue to expand as the number of stars rises. We also analyse the ability to reject models in the absence of fluctuations. While challenging, these studies are within reach of forthcoming time-domain surveys. Supernova observations can hypothetically constrain models with 10−12 < Gμ/c2 < 10−6 without any optimization of the survey cadence. However, the event rate forecast suggests it will be difficult to reject models of interest. As a demonstration, we use observations from the Pantheon Type Ia supernova cosmology data set to place modest constraints on the number density of cosmic superstrings in a poorly tested region of the parameter space.

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  5. Abstract

    The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), a public–private enterprise, is a new time-domain survey employing a dedicated camera on the Palomar 48-inch Schmidt telescope with a 47 deg2field of view and an 8 second readout time. It is well positioned in the development of time-domain astronomy, offering operations at 10% of the scale and style of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) with a single 1-m class survey telescope. The public surveys will cover the observable northern sky every three nights ingandrfilters and the visible Galactic plane every night ingandr. Alerts generated by these surveys are sent in real timemore »to brokers. A consortium of universities that provided funding (“partnership”) are undertaking several boutique surveys. The combination of these surveys producing one million alerts per night allows for exploration of transient and variable astrophysical phenomena brighter thanr ∼ 20.5 on timescales of minutes to years. We describe the primary science objectives driving ZTF, including the physics of supernovae and relativistic explosions, multi-messenger astrophysics, supernova cosmology, active galactic nuclei, and tidal disruption events, stellar variability, and solar system objects.

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