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  1. Abstract

    Electromagnetic follow-up of gravitational-wave detections is very resource intensive, taking up hours of limited observation time on dozens of telescopes. Creating more efficient schedules for follow-up will lead to a commensurate increase in counterpart location efficiency without using more telescope time. Widely used in operations research and telescope scheduling, mixed-integer linear programming is a strong candidate to produce these higher-efficiency schedules, as it can make use of powerful commercial solvers that find globally optimal solutions to provided problems. We detail a new target-of-opportunity scheduling algorithm designed with Zwicky Transient Facility in mind that uses mixed-integer linear programming. We compare its performance togwemopt, the tuned heuristic scheduler used by the Zwicky Transient Facility and other facilities during the third LIGO–Virgo gravitational-wave observing run. This new algorithm uses variable-length observing blocks to enforce cadence requirements and to ensure field observability, along with having a secondary optimization step to minimize slew time. We show that by employing a hybrid method utilizing both this scheduler andgwemopt, the previous scheduler used, in concert, we can achieve an average improvement in detection efficiency of 3%–11% overgwemoptalone for a simulated binary neutron star merger data set consistent with LIGO–Virgo’s third observing run, highlighting the potential ofmore »mixed-integer target of opportunity schedulers for future multimessenger follow-up surveys.

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  2. ABSTRACT

    S190426c/GW190426_152155 was the first probable neutron star–black hole merger candidate detected by the LIGO-Virgo Collaboration. We undertook a tiled search for optical counterparts of this event using the 0.7-m GROWTH-India Telescope. Over a period of two weeks, we obtained multiple observations over a 22.1 deg2 area, with a 17.5 per cent probability of containing the source location. Initial efforts included obtaining photometry of sources reported by various groups, and a visual search for sources in all galaxies contained in the region. Subsequently, we have developed an image subtraction and candidate vetting pipeline with $\sim 94{{\ \rm per\ cent}}$ efficiency for transient detection. Processing the data with this pipeline, we find several transients, but none that are compatible with kilonova models. We present the details of our observations, the working of our pipeline, results from the search, and our interpretations of the non-detections that will work as a pathfinder during the O4 run of LVK.

  3. Abstract

    Searches for electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational-wave signals have redoubled since the first detection in 2017 of a binary neutron star merger with a gamma-ray burst, optical/infrared kilonova, and panchromatic afterglow. Yet, one LIGO/Virgo observing run later, there has not yet been a second, secure identification of an electromagnetic counterpart. This is not surprising given that the localization uncertainties of events in LIGO and Virgo’s third observing run, O3, were much larger than predicted. We explain this by showing that improvements in data analysis that now allow LIGO/Virgo to detect weaker and hence more poorly localized events have increased the overall number of detections, of which well-localized,gold-platedevents make up a smaller proportion overall. We present simulations of the next two LIGO/Virgo/KAGRA observing runs, O4 and O5, that are grounded in the statistics of O3 public alerts. To illustrate the significant impact that the updated predictions can have, we study the follow-up strategy for the Zwicky Transient Facility. Realistic and timely forecasting of gravitational-wave localization accuracy is paramount given the large commitments of telescope time and the need to prioritize which events are followed up. We include a data release of our simulated localizations as a public proposal planning resource formore »astronomers.

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  4. Abstract

    Current and future optical and near-infrared wide-field surveys have the potential to find kilonovae, the optical and infrared counterparts to neutron star mergers, independently of gravitational-wave or high-energy gamma-ray burst triggers. The ability to discover fast and faint transients such as kilonovae largely depends on the area observed, the depth of those observations, the number of revisits per field in a given time frame, and the filters adopted by the survey; it also depends on the ability to perform rapid follow-up observations to confirm the nature of the transients. In this work, we assess kilonova detectability in existing simulations of the Legacy Survey of Space and Time strategy for the Vera C. Rubin Wide Fast Deep survey, with focus on comparing rolling to baseline cadences. Although currently available cadences can enable the detection of >300 kilonovae out to ∼1400 Mpc over the 10 year survey, we can expect only 3–32 kilonovae similar to GW170817 to be recognizable as fast-evolving transients. We also explore the detectability of kilonovae over the plausible parameter space, focusing on viewing angle and ejecta masses. We find that observations in redderizybands are crucial for identification of nearby (within 300 Mpc) kilonovae that could be spectroscopicallymore »classified more easily than more distant sources. Rubin’s potential for serendipitous kilonova discovery could be increased by gain of efficiency with the employment of individual 30 s exposures (as opposed to 2 × 15 s snap pairs), with the addition of red-band observations coupled with same-night observations ingorrbands, and possibly with further development of a new rolling-cadence strategy.

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  5. Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 1, 2023
  6. Abstract

    We presentnimbus: a hierarchical Bayesian framework to infer the intrinsic luminosity parameters of kilonovae (KNe) associated with gravitational-wave (GW) events, based purely on nondetections. This framework makes use of GW 3D distance information and electromagnetic upper limits from multiple surveys for multiple events and self-consistently accounts for the finite sky coverage and probability of astrophysical origin. The framework is agnostic to the brightness evolution assumed and can account for multiple electromagnetic passbands simultaneously. Our analyses highlight the importance of accounting for model selection effects, especially in the context of nondetections. We show our methodology using a simple, two-parameter linear brightness model, taking the follow-up of GW190425 with the Zwicky Transient Facility as a single-event test case for two different prior choices of model parameters: (i) uniform/uninformative priors and (ii) astrophysical priors based on surrogate models of Monte Carlo radiative-transfer simulations of KNe. We present results under the assumption that the KN is within the searched region to demonstrate functionality and the importance of prior choice. Our results show consistency withsimsurvey—an astronomical survey simulation tool used previously in the literature to constrain the population of KNe. While our results based on uniform priors strongly constrain the parameter space, those basedmore »on astrophysical priors are largely uninformative, highlighting the need for deeper constraints. Future studies with multiple events having electromagnetic follow-up from multiple surveys should make it possible to constrain the KN population further.

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  7. 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.

  8. ABSTRACT The localization of stellar-mass binary black hole mergers using gravitational waves is critical in understanding the properties of the binaries’ host galaxies, observing possible electromagnetic emission from the mergers, or using them as a cosmological distance ladder. The precision of this localization can be substantially increased with prior astrophysical information about the binary system. In particular, constraining the inclination of the binary can reduce the distance uncertainty of the source. Here, we present the first realistic set of localizations for binary black hole mergers, including different prior constraints on the binaries’ inclinations. We find that prior information on the inclination can reduce the localization volume by a factor of 3. We discuss two astrophysical scenarios of interest: (i) follow-up searches for beamed electromagnetic/neutrino counterparts and (ii) mergers in the accretion discs of active galactic nuclei.