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  1. Abstract In recent years, there have been significant advances in multimessenger astronomy due to the discovery of the first, and so far only confirmed, gravitational wave event with a simultaneous electromagnetic (EM) counterpart, as well as improvements in numerical simulations, gravitational wave (GW) detectors, and transient astronomy. This has led to the exciting possibility of performing joint analyses of the GW and EM data, providing additional constraints on fundamental properties of the binary progenitor and merger remnant. Here, we present a new Bayesian framework that allows inference of these properties, while taking into account the systematic modeling uncertainties that arisemore »when mapping from GW binary progenitor properties to photometric light curves. We extend the relative binning method presented in Zackay et al. to include extrinsic GW parameters for fast analysis of the GW signal. The focus of our EM framework is on light curves arising from r -process nucleosynthesis in the ejected material during and after merger, the so-called kilonova, and particularly on black hole−neutron star systems. As a case study, we examine the recent detection of GW190425, where the primary object is consistent with being either a black hole or a neutron star. We show quantitatively how improved mapping between binary progenitor and outflow properties, and/or an increase in EM data quantity and quality are required in order to break degeneracies in the fundamental source parameters.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available December 1, 2022
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  4. Evans, Christopher J. ; Bryant, Julia J. ; Motohara, Kentaro (Ed.)
    The Wide-field Infrared Transient Explorer (WINTER) is a 1x1 degree infrared survey telescope under devel- opment at MIT and Caltech, and slated for commissioning at Palomar Observatory in 2021. WINTER is a seeing-limited infrared time-domain survey and has two main science goals: (1) the discovery of IR kilonovae and r-process materials from binary neutron star mergers and (2) the study of general IR transients, including supernovae, tidal disruption events, and transiting exoplanets around low mass stars. We plan to meet these science goals with technologies that are relatively new to astrophysical research: hybridized InGaAs sensors as an alternative to traditional,more »but expensive, HgCdTe arrays and an IR-optimized 1-meter COTS telescope. To mitigate risk, optimize development efforts, and ensure that WINTER meets its science objectives, we use model-based systems engineering (MBSE) techniques commonly featured in aerospace engineering projects. Even as ground-based instrumentation projects grow in complexity, they do not often have the budget for a full-time systems engineer. We present one example of systems engineering for the ground-based WINTER project, featuring software tools that allow students or staff to learn the fundamentals of MBSE and capture the results in a formalized software interface. We focus on the top-level science requirements with a detailed example of how the goal of detecting kilonovae flows down to WINTER's optical design. In particular, we discuss new methods for tolerance simulations, eliminating stray light, and maximizing image quality of a fly's-eye design that slices the telescope's focus onto 6 non-buttable, IR detectors. We also include a discussion of safety constraints for a robotic telescope.« less
  5. We present SNIascore, a deep-learning based method for spectroscopic classification of thermonuclear supernovae (SNe Ia) based on very low-resolution (R ∼100) data. The goal of SNIascore is fully automated classification of SNe Ia with a very low false-positive rate (FPR) so that human intervention can be greatly reduced in large-scale SN classification efforts, such as that undertaken by the public Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) Bright Transient Survey (BTS). We utilize a recurrent neural network (RNN) architecture with a combination of bidirectional long short-term memory and gated recurrent unit layers. SNIascore achieves a <0.6% FPR while classifying up to 90% ofmore »the low-resolution SN Ia spectra obtained by the BTS. SNIascore simultaneously performs binary classification and predicts the redshifts of secure SNe Ia via regression (with a typical uncertainty of <0.005 in the range from z=0.01 to z=0.12). For the magnitude-limited ZTF BTS survey (≈70% SNe Ia), deploying SNIascore reduces the amount of spectra in need of human classification or confirmation by ≈60%. Furthermore, SNIascore allows SN Ia classifications to be automatically announced in real-time to the public immediately following a finished observation during the night.« less
  6. We present optical and infrared (IR) light curves of the enshrouded massive binary NaSt1 (WR 122) with observations from Palomar Gattini-IR (PGIR), the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), the Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope (KAIT), and the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN). The optical and IR light curves span between 2014 July and 2020 Oct., revealing periodic, sinusoidal variability from NaSt1 with a P=305.2±1.0 d period. We also present historical IR light curves taken between 1983 July and 1989 May that also indicate NaSt1 exhibits long-term IR variability on timescales of ∼decades. Fixed-period sinusoidal fits to the recent optical and IRmore »light curves show that amplitude of NaSt1's variability is different at different wavelengths and also reveal significant phase offsets of ∼18 d between the ZTF r and PGIR J light curves.We interpret the ∼300 d period of the observed variability as the orbital period of a binary system in NaSt1. Assuming a circular orbit and adopting a range of combined stellar mass values in the range 20-100 M⊙ in NaSt1, we estimate orbital separations of ∼2-4 au. We suggest that the sinusoidal photometric variability of NaSt1 may arise from variations in the line-of-sight optical depth toward circumstellar optical/IR emitting regions throughout its orbit due to colliding-wind dust formation. We provide an interpretation on the nature of NaSt1 and speculate that the mass-transfer process may have been triggered by Roche-lobe overflow (RLOF) during an eruptive phase of a Ofpe/WN9 star. Lastly, we claim that NaSt1 ceased RLOF mass transfer ≲3400 yr ago.« less
  7. Evans, Christopher J. ; Bryant, Julia J. ; Motohara, Kentaro (Ed.)
    The Wide-Field Infrared Transient Explorer (WINTER) is a new infrared time-domain survey instrument which will be deployed on a dedicated 1 meter robotic telescope at the Palomar Observatory. WINTER will perform a seeing-limited time domain survey of the infrared (IR) sky, with a particular emphasis on identifying r -process material in binary neutron star (BNS) merger remnants detected by LIGO. We describe the scientific goals and survey design of the WINTER instrument. With a dedicated trigger and the ability to map the full LIGO O4 positional error contour in the IR to a distance of 190 Mpc within four hours,more »WINTER will be a powerful kilonova discovery engine and tool for multi-messenger astrophysics investigations. In addition to follow-up observations of merging binaries, WINTER will facilitate a wide range of time-domain astronomical observations, all the while building up a deep coadded image of the static infrared sky suitable for survey science. WINTER's custom camera features six commercial large-format Indium Gallium Arsenide (InGaAs) sensors and a tiled optical system which covers a <1-square-degree field of view with 90% fill factor. The instrument observes in Y, J and a short-H (Hs) band tuned to the long-wave cutoff of the InGaAs sensors, covering a wavelength range from 0.9 - 1.7 microns. We present the design of the WINTER instrument and current progress towards final integration at the Palomar Observatory and commissioning planned for mid-2021.« less
  8. Abstract The nova rate in the Milky Way remains largely uncertain, despite its vital importance in constraining models of Galactic chemical evolution as well as understanding progenitor channels for Type Ia supernovae. The rate has been previously estimated to be in the range of ≈10–300 yr −1 , either based on extrapolations from a handful of very bright optical novae or the nova rates in nearby galaxies; both methods are subject to debatable assumptions. The total discovery rate of optical novae remains much smaller (≈5–10 yr −1 ) than these estimates, even with the advent of all-sky optical time-domain surveys.more »Here, we present a systematic sample of 12 spectroscopically confirmed Galactic novae detected in the first 17 months of Palomar Gattini-IR (PGIR), a wide-field near-infrared time-domain survey. Operating in the J band (≈1.2 μ m), which is significantly less affected by dust extinction compared to optical bands, the extinction distribution of the PGIR sample is highly skewed to a large extinction values (>50% of events obscured by A V ≳ 5 mag). Using recent estimates for the distribution of Galactic mass and dust, we show that the extinction distribution of the PGIR sample is commensurate with dust models. The PGIR extinction distribution is inconsistent with that reported in previous optical searches (null-hypothesis probability <0.01%), suggesting that a large population of highly obscured novae have been systematically missed in previous optical searches. We perform the first quantitative simulation of a 3 π time-domain survey to estimate the Galactic nova rate using PGIR, and derive a rate of ≈ 43.7 − 8.7 + 19.5 yr −1 . Our results suggest that all-sky near-infrared time-domain surveys are well poised to uncover the Galactic nova population.« less