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    Low-mass X-ray binaries have long been theorized as potential sources of continuous gravitational-wave radiation, yet there is no observational evidence from recent LIGO/Virgo observing runs. Even for the theoretically ‘loudest’ source, Sco X-1, the upper limit on gravitational-wave strain has been pushed ever lower. Such searches require precise measurements of the source properties for sufficient sensitivity and computational feasibility. Collating over 20 yr of high-quality spectroscopic observations of the system, we present a precise and comprehensive ephemeris for Sco X-1 through radial velocity measurements, performing a full homogeneous re-analysis of all relevant data sets and correcting previous analyses. Our Bayesian approach accounts for observational systematics and maximizes not only precision, but also the fidelity of uncertainty estimates – crucial for informing principled continuous-wave searches. Our extensive data set and analysis also enables us to construct the highest signal-to-noise ratio, highest resolution phase-averaged spectrum of a low-mass X-ray binary to date. Doppler tomography reveals intriguing transient structures present in the accretion disc and flow driven by modulation of the accretion rate, necessitating further characterization of the system at high temporal and spectral resolution. Our ephemeris corrects and supersedes previous ephemerides, and provides a factor three reduction in the number of templates in the search space, facilitating precision searches for continuous gravitational-wave emission from Sco X-1 throughout the upcoming LIGO/Virgo/KAGRA O4 observing run and beyond.

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    Despite being bright (V ≃ 11.8) and nearby (d = 212 pc) ASAS J071404+7004.3 has only recently been identified as a nova-like cataclysmic variable. We present time-resolved optical spectroscopy obtained at the Isaac Newton and the Hiltner and McGraw-Hill Telescopes, together with Swift X-ray and ultraviolet observations. We combined these with TESS photometry and find a period of 3.28 h and a mass transfer rate of $4\!-\!9\times 10^{-9}\, {\mathrm{M_{\odot }\, yr}^{-1}}$. Historical photometry shows at least one low state establishing the system as a VY Scl star. Our high-cadence spectroscopy also revealed rapidly changing winds emanating from the accretion disc. We have modelled these using the Monte Carlo python code and shown that all the emission lines could emanate from the wind – which would explain the lack of double-peaked lines in such systems. In passing, we discuss the effect of variability on the position of cataclysmic variables in the Gaia Hertzsprung–Russell diagram.

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    DW Cnc is an intermediate polar which has previously been observed in both high and low states. Observations of the high state of DW Cnc have previously revealed a spin period at ∼38.6 min, however, observations from the 2018 to 2019 low state showed no evidence of the spin period. We present results from our analysis of 12 s cadence photometric data collected by Next Generation Transit Survey of DW Cnc during the high state which began in 2019. Following the previously reported suppression of the spin period signal, we identify the return of this signal during the high state, consistent with previous observations of it. We identify this as the restarting of accretion during the high state. We further identified three short outbursts lasting ∼1 d in DW Cnc with a mean recurrence time of ∼60 d and an amplitude of ∼1 mag. These are the first outbursts identified in DW Cnc since 2008. Due to the short nature of these events, we identify them not as a result of accretion instabilities but instead either from instabilities originating from the interaction of the magnetorotational instability in the accretion disc and the magnetic field generated by the white dwarf or the result of magnetic gating.

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  4. 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.

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