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  1. Abstract Kilonovae are ultraviolet, optical, and infrared transients powered by the radioactive decay of heavy elements following a neutron star merger. Joint observations of kilonovae and gravitational waves can offer key constraints on the source of Galactic r -process enrichment, among other astrophysical topics. However, robust constraints on heavy element production require rapid kilonova detection (within ∼1 day of merger) as well as multiwavelength observations across multiple epochs. In this study, we quantify the ability of 13 wide-field-of-view instruments to detect kilonovae, leveraging a large grid of over 900 radiative transfer simulations with 54 viewing angles per simulation. We consider both current and upcoming instruments, collectively spanning the full kilonova spectrum. The Roman Space Telescope has the highest redshift reach of any instrument in the study, observing kilonovae out to z ∼ 1 within the first day post-merger. We demonstrate that BlackGEM, DECam, GOTO, the Vera C. Rubin Observatory’s LSST, ULTRASAT, VISTA, and WINTER can observe some kilonovae out to z ∼ 0.1 (∼475 Mpc), while DDOTI, MeerLICHT, PRIME, Swift/UVOT, and ZTF are confined to more nearby observations. Furthermore, we provide a framework to infer kilonova ejecta properties following nondetections and explore variation in detectability with these ejecta parameters.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  2. Gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) are among the brightest and most energetic events in the universe. The duration and hardness distribution of GRBs has two clusters, now understood to reflect (at least) two different progenitors. Short-hard GRBs (SGRBs; T90 <2 s) arise from compact binary mergers, while long-soft GRBs (LGRBs; T90 >2 s) have been attributed to the collapse of peculiar massive stars (collapsars). The discovery of SN 1998bw/GRB 980425 marked the first association of a LGRB with a collapsar and AT 2017gfo/GRB 170817A/GW170817 marked the first association of a SGRB with a binary neutron star merger, producing also gravitational wave (GW). Here, we present the discovery of ZTF20abwysqy (AT2020scz), a fast-fading optical transient in the Fermi Satellite and the InterPlanetary Network (IPN) localization regions of GRB 200826A; X-ray and radio emission further confirm that this is the afterglow. Follow-up imaging (at rest-frame 16.5 days) reveals excess emission above the afterglow that cannot be explained as an underlying kilonova (KN), but is consistent with being the supernova (SN). Despite the GRB duration being short (rest-frame T90 of 0.65 s), our panchromatic follow-up data confirms a collapsar origin. GRB 200826A is the shortest LGRB found with an associated collapsar; it appears to sitmore »on the brink between a successful and a failed collapsar. Our discovery is consistent with the hypothesis that most collapsars fail to produce ultra-relativistic jets.« less