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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 of 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.

  2. Abstract The combined detection of a gravitational-wave signal, kilonova, and short gamma-ray burst (sGRB) from GW170817 marked a scientific breakthrough in the field of multimessenger astronomy. But even before GW170817, there have been a number of sGRBs with possible associated kilonova detections. In this work, we re-examine these ‘historical’ sGRB afterglows with a combination of state-of-the-art afterglow and kilonova models. This allows us to include optical/near-infrared synchrotron emission produced by the sGRB as well as ultraviolet/optical/near-infrared emission powered by the radioactive decay of r-process elements (i.e. the kilonova). Fitting the light curves, we derive the velocity and the mass distribution as well as the composition of the ejected material. The posteriors on kilonova parameters obtained from the fit were turned into distributions for the peak magnitude of the kilonova emission in different bands and the time at which this peak occurs. From the sGRB with an associated kilonova, we found that the peak magnitude in H bands falls in the range [−16.2, −13.1] ($95{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ of confidence) and occurs within $0.8\!-\!3.6\, \rm d$ after the sGRB prompt emission. In g band instead we obtain a peak magnitude in range [−16.8, −12.3] occurring within the first 18 h after themore »sGRB prompt. From the luminosity distributions of GW170817/AT2017gfo, kilonova candidates GRB130603B, GRB050709, and GRB060614 (with the possible inclusion of GRB150101B, GRB050724A, GRB061201, GRB080905A, GRB150424A, and GRB160821B) and the upper limits from all the other sGRBs not associated with any kilonova detection we obtain for the first time a kilonova luminosity distribution in different bands.« less