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  1. Abstract We present new radio and optical data, including very-long-baseline interferometry, as well as archival data analysis, for the luminous, decades-long radio transient FIRST J141918.9+394036. The radio data reveal a synchrotron self-absorption peak around 0.3 GHz and a radius of around 1.3 mas (0.5 pc) 26 yr post-discovery, indicating a blastwave energy ∼5 × 10 50 erg. The optical spectrum shows a broad [O iii ] λ 4959,5007 emission line that may indicate collisional excitation in the host galaxy, but its association with the transient cannot be ruled out. The properties of the host galaxy are suggestive of a massivemore »stellar progenitor that formed at low metallicity. Based on the radio light curve, blastwave velocity, energetics, nature of the host galaxy and transient rates, we find that the properties of J1419+3940 are most consistent with long gamma-ray burst (LGRB) afterglows. Other classes of (optically discovered) stellar explosions as well as neutron star mergers are disfavored, and invoking any exotic scenario may not be necessary. It is therefore likely that J1419+3940 is an off-axis LGRB afterglow (as suggested by Law et al. and Marcote et al.), and under this premise the inverse beaming fraction is found to be f b − 1 ≃ 280 − 200 + 700 , corresponding to an average jet half-opening angle < θ j > ≃ 5 − 2 + 4 degrees (68% confidence), consistent with previous estimates. From the volumetric rate we predict that surveys with the Very Large Array, Australian Square Kilometre Array Pathfinder, and MeerKAT will find a handful of J1419+3940-like events over the coming years.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available January 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 The recent detection of GW190521 stimulated ideas on how to populate the predicted black hole (BH) pair-instability (PI) mass gap. One proposal is the dynamical merger of two stars below the PI regime forming a star with a small core and an oversized envelope. We outline the main challenges this scenario faces to form one BH in the gap. In particular, the core needs to avoid growing during the merger, and the merger product needs to retain enough mass, including in the subsequent evolution, and at core collapse (CC). We explore this scenario with detailed stellar evolution calculations, startingmore »with ad hoc initial conditions enforcing no core growth during the merger. We find that these massive merger products are likely to be helium-rich and spend most of their remaining lifetime within regions of instabilities in the Herzsprung–Russell diagram, such as luminous blue variable eruptions. An energetic estimate of the amount of mass loss neglecting the back reaction of the star suggests that the total amount of mass that can be removed at low metallicity is ≲1 M ⊙ . This is small enough that at CC our models are retaining sufficient mass to form BHs in the PI gap similar to the recent ones detected by LIGO/Virgo. However, mass loss at the time of merger, the resulting core structure, and the mass loss at CC still need to be quantified for these models to confirm the viability of this scenario.« less
  4. 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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