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Constraining the Kilonova Rate with Zwicky Transient Facility Searches Independent of Gravitational Wave and Short Gamma-Ray Burst Triggers

Andreoni, Igor and Kool, Erik C. and Sagués Carracedo, Ana and Kasliwal, Mansi M. and Bulla, Mattia and Ahumada, Tomás and Coughlin, Michael W. and Anand, Shreya and Sollerman, Jesper and Goobar, Ariel and Kaplan, David L. and Loveridge, Tegan T. and Karambelkar, Viraj and Cooke, Jeff and Bagdasaryan, Ashot and Bellm, Eric C. and Cenko, S. Bradley and Cook, David O. and De, Kishalay and Dekany, Richard and Delacroix, Alexandre and Drake, Andrew and Duev, Dmitry A. and Fremling, Christoffer and Golkhou, V. Zach and Graham, Matthew J. and Hale, David and Kulkarni, S. R. and Kupfer, Thomas and Laher, Russ R. and Mahabal, Ashish A. and Masci, Frank J. and Rusholme, Ben and Smith, Roger M. and Tzanidakis, Anastasios and Van Sistine, Angela and Yao, Yuhan (2020) Constraining the Kilonova Rate with Zwicky Transient Facility Searches Independent of Gravitational Wave and Short Gamma-Ray Burst Triggers. Astrophysical Journal, 904 (2). Art. No. 155. ISSN 1538-4357. doi:10.3847/1538-4357/abbf4c.

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The first binary neutron star merger, GW170817, was accompanied by a radioactivity-powered optical/infrared transient called a kilonova. To date, no compelling kilonova has been found in all-sky optical surveys, independently of short gamma-ray burst and gravitational-wave triggers. In this work, we searched the first 23 months of the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) data stream for candidate kilonovae in the form of rapidly evolving transients. We combined ZTF alert queries with forced point-spread-function photometry and nightly flux stacking to increase our sensitivity to faint and fast transients. Automatic queries yielded >11,200 candidates, 24 of which passed quality checks and selection criteria based on a grid of kilonova models tailored for both binary neutron star and neutron star–black hole mergers. None of the candidates in our sample was deemed a possible kilonova after thorough vetting. The sources that passed our selection criteria are dominated by Galactic cataclysmic variables. We identified two fast transients at high Galactic latitude, one of which is the confirmed afterglow of long-duration GRB 190106A, the other is a possible cosmological afterglow. Using a survey simulation code, we constrained the kilonova rate for a range of models including top-hat, linearly decaying light curves, and synthetic light curves obtained with radiative transfer simulations. For prototypical GW170817-like kilonovae, we constrain the rate to be R < 1775 Gpc⁻³ yr⁻¹ (95% confidence). By assuming a population of kilonovae with the same geometry and composition of GW170817 observed under a uniform viewing angle distribution, we obtained a constraint on the rate of R < 4029 Gpc⁻³ yr⁻¹.

Item Type:Article
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URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Andreoni, Igor0000-0002-8977-1498
Kool, Erik C.0000-0002-7252-3877
Kasliwal, Mansi M.0000-0002-5619-4938
Bulla, Mattia0000-0002-8255-5127
Ahumada, Tomás0000-0002-2184-6430
Coughlin, Michael W.0000-0002-8262-2924
Anand, Shreya0000-0003-3768-7515
Sollerman, Jesper0000-0003-1546-6615
Goobar, Ariel0000-0002-4163-4996
Kaplan, David L.0000-0001-6295-2881
Cooke, Jeff0000-0001-5703-2108
Bellm, Eric C.0000-0001-8018-5348
Cenko, S. Bradley0000-0003-1673-970X
Cook, David O.0000-0002-6877-7655
De, Kishalay0000-0002-8989-0542
Dekany, Richard0000-0002-5884-7867
Duev, Dmitry A.0000-0001-5060-8733
Fremling, Christoffer0000-0002-4223-103X
Golkhou, V. Zach0000-0001-8205-2506
Graham, Matthew J.0000-0002-3168-0139
Kulkarni, S. R.0000-0001-5390-8563
Kupfer, Thomas0000-0002-6540-1484
Laher, Russ R.0000-0003-2451-5482
Mahabal, Ashish A.0000-0003-2242-0244
Masci, Frank J.0000-0002-8532-9395
Rusholme, Ben0000-0001-7648-4142
Smith, Roger M.0000-0001-7062-9726
Tzanidakis, Anastasios0000-0003-0484-3331
Van Sistine, Angela0000-0003-4131-173X
Yao, Yuhan0000-0001-6747-8509
Additional Information:© 2020. The American Astronomical Society. Received 2020 July 31; revised 2020 September 22; accepted 2020 October 5; published 2020 November 30. We thank the anonymous referee who helped us improve the quality of the manuscript. We thank P. Nugent for reviewing the manuscript and providing us with useful feedback. We thank D. Perley for useful discussion. Based on observations obtained with the Samuel Oschin 48 inch Telescope and the 60 inch Telescope at the Palomar Observatory as part of the Zwicky Transient Facility project, a scientific collaboration among the California Institute of Technology, the Oskar Klein Centre, the Weizmann Institute of Science, the University of Maryland, the University of Washington, Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the TANGO Program of the University System of Taiwan. Further support is provided by the U.S. National Science Foundation under grant No. AST-1440341. This work was supported by the GROWTH (Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen) project funded by the National Science Foundation under PIRE grant No. 1545949. GROWTH is a collaborative project among California Institute of Technology (USA), University of Maryland College Park (USA), University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (USA), Texas Tech University (USA), San Diego State University (USA), University of Washington (USA), Los Alamos National Laboratory (USA), Tokyo Institute of Technology (Japan), National Central University (Taiwan), Indian Institute of Astrophysics (India), Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (India), Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel), The Oskar Klein Centre at Stockholm University (Sweden), Humboldt University (Germany), Liverpool John Moores University (UK) and University of Sydney (Australia). E.C.K., A.S.C., and A.G. acknowledge support from the G.R.E.A.T research environment funded by Vetenskapsrådet, the Swedish Research Council, project number 2016-06012. E.C.K. also acknowledges support from The Wenner-Gren Foundations. M.W.C. acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation with grant No. PHY-2010970. D.L.K. is supported by NSF grant AST-1816492. M.M.K. acknowledges generous support from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation. We thank A. Miller for the star/galaxy classification code development for ZTF. This research has made use of the VizieR catalog access tool, CDS, Strasbourg, France (doi:10.26093/cds/vizier). The original description of the VizieR service was published in A&AS 143, 23. This work has made use of data from the European Space Agency (ESA) mission Gaia (, processed by the Gaia Data Processing and Analysis Consortium (DPAC, Funding for the DPAC has been provided by national institutions, in particular the institutions participating in the Gaia Multilateral Agreement. Software: Astropy (The Astropy Collaboration 2018), Pandas (pandas development team 2020), Matplotlib (Caswell et al. 2020), Kowalski (Duev et al. 2019), lpipe (Perley 2019), PostgreSQL22 , PyRAF DBSP data reduction pipeline (Bellm & Sesar 2016), ztfquery (Rigault 2018), SExtractor (Bertin & Arnouts 2010), ForcePhotZTF (Yao et al. 2019).
Group:Astronomy Department, Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC), Zwicky Transient Facility
Funding AgencyGrant Number
ZTF partner institutionsUNSPECIFIED
Swedish Research Council2016-06012
Wenner-Gren FoundationUNSPECIFIED
David and Lucile Packard FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Gaia Multilateral AgreementUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:2
Classification Code:Unified Astronomy Thesaurus concepts: Neutron stars (1108); Compact objects (288); Gravitational wave sources (677); Transient sources (1851); Surveys (1671); R-process (1324); Optical observation (1169); Optical bursts (1164); Gamma-ray bursts (629)
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200901-074328291
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Igor Andreoni et al 2020 ApJ 904 155
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:105190
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:08 Sep 2020 19:26
Last Modified:16 Nov 2021 18:40

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