Testing the magnetar scenario for superluminous supernovae with circular polarimetry

Optimizing searches for electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational wave triggers

Observational Implications of Lowering the LIGO-Virgo Alert Threshold

The recent detection of the binary-neutron-star merger associated with GW170817 by both the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and Virgo and the network of electromagnetic-spectrum observing facilities around the world has made the multi-messenger detection of gravitational-wave (GW) events a reality. These joint detections allow us to probe GW sources in greater detail and provide us with the possibility of confidently establishing events that would not have been detected in GW data alone. In this Letter, we explore the prospects of using the electromagnetic (EM) follow-up of low-significance GW event candidates to increase the sample of confident detections with EM counterparts. We find that the GW-alert threshold change that would roughly double the number of detectable astrophysical events would increase the false-alarm rate (FAR) by more than five orders of magnitude from 1 per 100 years to more than 1000 per year. We find that the localization costs of following up low-significance candidates are marginal, as the same changes to FAR only increase distance/area localizations by less than a factor of 2 and increase volume localization by less than a factor of 4. We argue that EM follow-up thresholds for low-significance candidates should be set on the basis of alert purity ( P astro ) and not FAR. Ideally, such estimates of P astro would be provided by LIGO-Virgo, but in their absence we provide estimates of the average purity of the GW candidate alerts issued by LIGO-Virgo as a function of FAR for various LIGO-Virgo observing epochs.

First Search for Nontensorial Gravitational Waves from Known Pulsars

Upper Limits on Gravitational Waves from Scorpius X-1 from a Model-based Cross-correlation Search in Advanced LIGO Data

We present the results of a semicoherent search for continuous gravitational waves from the low-mass X-ray binary Scorpius X-1, using data from the first Advanced LIGO observing run. The search method uses details of the modeled, parametrized continuous signal to combine coherently data separated by less than a specified coherence time, which can be adjusted to trade off sensitivity against computational cost. A search was conducted over the frequency range 25– ##IMG## [] $2000,mathrmHz$ , spanning the current observationally constrained range of binary orbital parameters. No significant detection candidates were found, and frequency-dependent upper limits were set using a combination of sensitivity estimates and simulated signal injections. The most stringent upper limit was set at ##IMG## [] $175,mathrmHz$ , with comparable limits set across the most sensitive frequency range from 100 to ##IMG## [] $200,mathrmHz$ . At this frequency, the 95% upper limit on the signal amplitude h 0 is ##IMG## [] $2.3times 10^-25$ marginalized over the unknown inclination angle of the neutron star’s spin, and ##IMG## [] $8.0times 10^-26$ assuming the best orientation (which results in circularly polarized gravitational waves). These limits are a factor of 3–4 stronger than those set by other analyses of the same data, and a factor of ∼7 stronger than the best upper limits set using data from Initial LIGO science runs. In the vicinity of ##IMG## [] $100,mathrmHz$ , the limits are a factor of between 1.2 and 3.5 above the predictions of the torque balance model, depending on the inclination angle; if the most likely inclination angle of 44° is assumed, they are within a factor of 1.7.

Toward Rapid Transient Identification and Characterization of Kilonovae

With the increasing sensitivity of advanced gravitational-wave (GW) detectors, the first joint detection of an electromagnetic and GW signal from a compact binary merger will hopefully happen within this decade. However, current GW likelihood sky areas span ##IMG## [] $∼100mbox–1000,deg ^2$ , and thus it is a challenging task to identify which, if any, transient corresponds to the GW event. In this study, we make a comparison between recent kilonova/macronova light-curve models for the purpose of assessing potential light-curve templates for counterpart identification. We show that recent analytical and parameterized models for these counterparts result in qualitative agreement with more complicated radiative transfer simulations. Our analysis suggests that with improved light-curve models with smaller uncertainties it will become possible to extract information about ejecta properties and binary parameters directly from the light-curve measurement. Even tighter constraints are obtained in cases for which GW and kilonova parameter estimation results are combined. It will therefore be important to make comparisons and potentially combine parameter estimation with the kilonova and GW results. However, to be prepared for upcoming detections, more realistic kilonova models are needed. These will require numerical relativity with more detailed microphysics, better radiative transfer simulations, and a better understanding of the underlying nuclear physics.

The basic physics of the binary black hole merger GW150914

On the Progenitor of Binary Neutron Star Merger GW170817

On 2017 August 17 the merger of two compact objects with masses consistent with two neutron stars was discovered through gravitational-wave (GW170817), gamma-ray (GRB 170817A), and optical (SSS17a/AT 2017gfo) observations. The optical source was associated with the early-type galaxy NGC 4993 at a distance of just ∼40 Mpc, consistent with the gravitational-wave measurement, and the merger was localized to be at a projected distance of ∼2 kpc away from the galaxy’s center. We use this minimal set of facts and the mass posteriors of the two neutron stars to derive the first constraints on the progenitor of GW170817 at the time of the second supernova (SN). We generate simulated progenitor populations and follow the three-dimensional kinematic evolution from binary neutron star (BNS) birth to the merger time, accounting for pre-SN galactic motion, for considerably different input distributions of the progenitor mass, pre-SN semimajor axis, and SN-kick velocity. Though not considerably tight, we find these constraints to be comparable to those for Galactic BNS progenitors. The derived constraints are very strongly influenced by the requirement of keeping the binary bound after the second SN and having the merger occur relatively close to the center of the galaxy. These constraints are insensitive to the galaxy’s star formation history, provided the stellar populations are older than 1 Gyr.

Multi-messenger Observations of a Binary Neutron Star Merger

Low‐Frequency Tilt Seismology with a Precision Ground‐Rotation Sensor

Limiting the effects of earthquakes on gravitational-wave interferometers

Ground-based gravitational wave interferometers such as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) are susceptible to ground shaking from high-magnitude teleseismic events, which can interrupt their operation in science mode and significantly reduce their duty cycle. It can take several hours for a detector to stabilize enough to return to its nominal state for scientific observations. The down time can be reduced if advance warning of impending shaking is received and the impact is suppressed in the isolation system with the goal of maintaining stable operation even at the expense of increased instrumental noise. Here, we describe an early warning system for modern gravitational-wave observatories. The system relies on near real-time earthquake alerts provided by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Preliminary low latency hypocenter and magnitude information is generally available in 5 to 20 min of a significant earthquake depending on its magnitude and location. The alerts are used to estimate arrival times and ground velocities at the gravitational-wave detectors. In general, 90% of the predictions for ground-motion amplitude are within a factor of 5 of measured values. The error in both arrival time and ground-motion prediction introduced by using preliminary, rather than final, hypocenter and magnitude information is minimal. By using a machine learning algorithm, we develop a prediction model that calculates the probability that a given earthquake will prevent a detector from taking data. Our initial results indicate that by using detector control configuration changes, we could prevent interruption of operation from 40 to 100 earthquake events in a 6-month time-period.

GW170608: Observation of a 19 Solar-mass Binary Black Hole Coalescence

Gravitational Waves and Gamma-Rays from a Binary Neutron Star Merger: GW170817 and GRB 170817A

Exploring a search for long-duration transient gravitational waves associated with magnetar bursts

Estimating the Contribution of Dynamical Ejecta in the Kilonova Associated with GW170817

The source of the gravitational-wave (GW) signal GW170817, very likely a binary neutron star merger, was also observed electromagnetically, providing the first multi-messenger observations of this type. The two-week-long electromagnetic (EM) counterpart had a signature indicative of an r -process-induced optical transient known as a kilonova. This Letter examines how the mass of the dynamical ejecta can be estimated without a direct electromagnetic observation of the kilonova, using GW measurements and a phenomenological model calibrated to numerical simulations of mergers with dynamical ejecta. Specifically, we apply the model to the binary masses inferred from the GW measurements, and use the resulting mass of the dynamical ejecta to estimate its contribution (without the effects of wind ejecta) to the corresponding kilonova light curves from various models. The distributions of dynamical ejecta mass range between ##IMG## [] $M_mathrmej=10^-3-10^-2,M_⊙$ for various equations of state, assuming that the neutron stars are rotating slowly. In addition, we use our estimates of the dynamical ejecta mass and the neutron star merger rates inferred from GW170817 to constrain the contribution of events like this to the r -process element abundance in the Galaxy when ejecta mass from post-merger winds is neglected. We find that if ≳10% of the matter dynamically ejected from binary neutron star (BNS) mergers is converted to r -process elements, GW170817-like BNS mergers could fully account for the amount of r -process material observed in the Milky Way.

Effects of waveform model systematics on the interpretation of GW150914

Parameter estimates of GW150914 were obtained using Bayesian inference, based on three semi-analytic waveform models for binary black hole coalescences. These waveform models differ from each other in their treatment of black hole spins, and all three models make some simplifying assumptions, notably to neglect sub-dominant waveform harmonic modes and orbital eccentricity. Furthermore, while the models are calibrated to agree with waveforms obtained by full numerical solutions of Einstein’s equations, any such calibration is accurate only to some non-zero tolerance and is limited by the accuracy of the underlying phenomenology, availability, quality, and parameter-space coverage of numerical simulations. This paper complements the original analyses of GW150914 with an investigation of the effects of possible systematic errors in the waveform models on estimates of its source parameters. To test for systematic errors we repeat the original Bayesian analysis on mock signals from numerical simulations of a series of binary configurations with parameters similar to those found for GW150914. Overall, we find no evidence for a systematic bias relative to the statistical error of the original parameter recovery of GW150914 due to modeling approximations or modeling inaccuracies. However, parameter biases are found to occur for some configurations disfavored by the data of GW150914: for binaries inclined edge-on to the detector over a small range of choices of polarization angles, and also for eccentricities greater than  ∼0.05. For signals with higher signal-to-noise ratio than GW150914, or in other regions of the binary parameter space (lower masses, larger mass ratios, or higher spins), we expect that systematic errors in current waveform models may impact gravitational-wave measurements, making more accurate models desirable for future observations.

Properties of the Binary Black Hole Merger GW150914

Tests of General Relativity with GW150914

Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger

Prospects for Observing and Localizing Gravitational-Wave Transients with Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo

Pan-STARRS and PESSTO search for an optical counterpart to the LIGO gravitational-wave source GW150914

Localization and Broadband Follow-up of the Gravitational-wave Transient GW150914

A gravitational-wave (GW) transient was identified in data recorded by the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) detectors on 2015 September 14. The event, initially designated G184098 and later given the name GW150914, is described in detail elsewhere. By prior arrangement, preliminary estimates of the time, significance, and sky location of the event were shared with 63 teams of observers covering radio, optical, near-infrared, X-ray, and gamma-ray wavelengths with ground- and space-based facilities. In this Letter we describe the low-latency analysis of the GW data and present the sky localization of the first observed compact binary merger. We summarize the follow-up observations reported by 25 teams via private Gamma-ray Coordinates Network circulars, giving an overview of the participating facilities, the GW sky localization coverage, the timeline, and depth of the observations. As this event turned out to be a binary black hole merger, there is little expectation of a detectable electromagnetic (EM) signature. Nevertheless, this first broadband campaign to search for a counterpart of an Advanced LIGO source represents a milestone and highlights the broad capabilities of the transient astronomy community and the observing strategies that have been developed to pursue neutron star binary merger events. Detailed investigations of the EM data and results of the EM follow-up campaign are being disseminated in papers by the individual teams.

Going the Distance: Mapping Host Galaxies of LIGO and Virgo Sources in Three Dimensions Using Local Cosmography and Targeted Follow-up

The Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) discovered gravitational waves (GWs) from a binary black hole merger in 2015 September and may soon observe signals from neutron star mergers. There is considerable interest in searching for their faint and rapidly fading electromagnetic (EM) counterparts, though GW position uncertainties are as coarse as hundreds of square degrees. Because LIGO’s sensitivity to binary neutron stars is limited to the local universe, the area on the sky that must be searched could be reduced by weighting positions by mass, luminosity, or star formation in nearby galaxies. Since GW observations provide information about luminosity distance, combining the reconstructed volume with positions and redshifts of galaxies could reduce the area even more dramatically. A key missing ingredient has been a rapid GW parameter estimation algorithm that reconstructs the full distribution of sky location and distance. We demonstrate the first such algorithm, which takes under a minute, fast enough to enable immediate EM follow-up. By combining the three-dimensional posterior with a galaxy catalog, we can reduce the number of galaxies that could conceivably host the event by a factor of 1.4, the total exposure time for the Swift X-ray Telescope by a factor of 2, the total exposure time for a synoptic optical survey by a factor of 2, and the total exposure time for a narrow-field optical telescope by a factor of 3. This encourages us to suggest a new role for small field of view optical instruments in performing targeted searches of the most massive galaxies within the reconstructed volumes.

Astrophysical Implications of the Binary Black Hole Merger GW150914

A Search for an Optical Counterpart to the Gravitational-wave Event GW151226

A daytime measurement of the lunar contribution to the night sky brightness in LSST's ugrizy bands--initial results

A collimated beam projector for precise telescope calibration

The precise determination of the instrumental response function versus wavelength is a central ingredient in contemporary photometric calibration strategies. This typically entails propagating narrowband illumination through the system pupil, and comparing the detected photon rate across the focal plane to the amount of incident light as measured by a calibrated photodiode. However, stray light effects and reflections/ghosting (especially on the edges of filter passbands) in the optical train constitute a major source of systematic uncertainty when using a at-field screen as the illumination source. A collimated beam projector that projects a mask onto the focal plane of the instrument can distinguish focusing light paths from stray and scattered light, allowing for a precise determination of instrumental throughput. This paper describes the conceptual design of such a system, outlines its merits, and presents results from a prototype system used with the Dark Energy Camera wide field imager on the 4-meter Blanco telescope. A calibration scheme that blends results from at-field images with collimated beam projector data to obtain the equivalent of an illumination correction at high spectral and angular resolution is also presented. In addition to providing a precise system throughput calibration, by monitoring the evolution of the intensity and behaviour of the ghosts in the optical system, the collimated beam projector can be used to track the evolution of the filter transmission properties and various anti-reflective coatings in the optical system.

Mock data and science challenge for detecting an astrophysical stochastic gravitational-wave background with Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo

Prospects for searches for long-duration gravitational-waves without time slides

Detectability of eccentric compact binary coalescences with advanced gravitational-wave detectors

Parameter estimation for compact binaries with ground-based gravitational-wave observations using the LALInference software library

Real-time earthquake warning for astronomical observatories

Characterization of the LIGO detectors during their sixth science run

Advanced LIGO

Detecting compact binary coalescences with seedless clustering

Wiener filtering with a seismic underground array at the Sanford Underground Research Facility

First Searches for Optical Counterparts to Gravitational-wave Candidate Events

Fortifying the characterization of binary mergers in LIGO data

The characterization of Virgo data and its impact on gravitational-wave searches

Swift Follow-up Observations of Candidate Gravitational-wave Transient Events

Seismic topographic scattering and future GW detector site selection in the US

Implications for the Origin of GRB 051103 from LIGO Observations

Identification of noise artifacts in searches for long-duration gravitational-wave transients

Characterization of the Virgo Seismic Environment

Long gravitational-wave transients and associated detection strategies for a network of terrestrial interferometers

Identification of long-duration noise transients in LIGO and Virgo

Directional Limits on Persistent Gravitational Waves Using LIGO S5 Science Data

A gravitational wave observatory operating beyond the quantum shot-noise limit

Noise Line Identification in LIGO S6 and Virgo VSR2

Methods for Reducing False Alarms in Searches for Compact Binary Coalescences in LIGO Data

Characterization of the seismic environment at the Sanford Underground Laboratory, South Dakota