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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
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  6. Aims. We present the results of three commissioning H  I observations obtained with the MeerKAT radio telescope. These observations make up part of the preparation for the forthcoming MHONGOOSE nearby galaxy survey, which is a MeerKAT large survey project that will study the accretion of gas in galaxies and the link between gas and star formation. Methods. We used the available H  I data sets, along with ancillary data at other wavelengths, to study the morphology of the MHONGOOSE sample galaxy, ESO 302-G014, which is a nearby gas-rich dwarf galaxy. Results. We find that ESO 302-G014 has a lopsided, asymmetricmore »outer disc with a low column density. In addition, we find a tail or filament of H  I clouds extending away from the galaxy, as well as an isolated H  I cloud some 20 kpc to the south of the galaxy. We suggest that these features indicate a minor interaction with a low-mass galaxy. Optical imaging shows a possible dwarf galaxy near the tail, but based on the current data, we cannot confirm any association with ESO 302-G014. Nonetheless, an interaction scenario with some kind of low-mass companion is still supported by the presence of a significant amount of molecular gas, which is almost equal to the stellar mass, and a number of prominent stellar clusters, which suggest recently triggered star formation. Conclusions. These data show that MeerKAT produces exquisite imaging data. The forthcoming full-depth survey observations of ESO 302-G014 and other sample galaxies will, therefore, offer insights into the fate of neutral gas as it moves from the intergalactic medium onto galaxies.« less