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Towards regular serendipitous detections of kilonovae by wide-field surveys

Almualla, Mouza and Anand, Shreya and Coughlin, Michael W. and Dietrich, Tim and Guessoum, Nidhal and Sagués Carracedo, Ana and Ahumada, Tomás and Andreoni, Igor and Antier, Sarah and Bellm, Eric C. and Bulla, Mattia and Singer, Leo P. (2020) Towards regular serendipitous detections of kilonovae by wide-field surveys. . (Unpublished)

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The rise of multi-messenger astronomy has brought with it the need to exploit all available data streams and learn more about the astrophysical objects that fall within its breadth. One possible avenue is the search for serendipitous electromagnetic counterparts of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) and gravitational-wave signals, known as kilonovae. With surveys such as the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), which observes the sky with a cadence of ∼ three days, the existing counterpart locations are likely to be observed; however, due to the significant amount of sky to explore, it is difficult to search for these fast-evolving candidates. It is thus beneficial for the survey cadence to be optimized to find and identify transients of this type such that further photometric and spectroscopic observations can be made. We explore how to improve the cadence of wide field-of-view surveys like ZTF to enable such identifications. We show that with improved observational choices, e.g., the adoption of a ∼ nightly cadence and the prioritization of redder photometric bands, detection rates improve by about a factor of two relative to the nominal cadence. These results demonstrate how an optimal use of ZTF increases the likelihood of kilonova discovery independent of gravitational waves or GRBs, thereby allowing for a sensitive search with less interruption of its nominal cadence through Target of Opportunity programs.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Discussion Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Almualla, Mouza0000-0002-4694-7123
Anand, Shreya0000-0003-3768-7515
Coughlin, Michael W.0000-0002-8262-2924
Dietrich, Tim0000-0003-2374-307X
Guessoum, Nidhal0000-0003-1585-8205
Sagués Carracedo, Ana0000-0002-3498-2167
Ahumada, Tomás0000-0002-2184-6430
Andreoni, Igor0000-0002-8977-1498
Antier, Sarah0000-0002-7686-3334
Bellm, Eric C.0000-0001-8018-5348
Bulla, Mattia0000-0002-8255-5127
Singer, Leo P.0000-0001-9898-5597
Additional Information:We thank Brad Cenko, Mansi Kasliwal, and David Kaplan for the valuable suggestions provided through-out the process of writing this paper. The group at the American University of Sharjah acknowledges a research grant from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (UAE), which supported this work. S. Anand acknowledges support from the GROWTH-PIRE grant 1545949. M. W. Coughlin acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation with grant number PHY-2010970. Based on observations obtained with the Samuel Oschin Telescope 48-inch and the 60-inch Telescope at the Palomar Observatory as part of the Zwicky Transient Facility project. ZTF is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. AST-1440341 and a collaboration including Caltech, IPAC, the Weizmann Institute for Science, the Oskar Klein Center at Stockholm University, the University of Maryland, the University of Washington (UW), Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron and Humboldt University, Los Alamos National Laboratories, the TANGO Consortium of Taiwan, the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories. Operations are conducted by Caltech Optical Observatories, IPAC, and UW.
Group:Zwicky Transient Facility
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Mohammed Bin Rashid Space CentreUNSPECIFIED
ZTF partner institutionsUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210202-095217476
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:107852
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:04 Feb 2021 16:29
Last Modified:04 Feb 2021 16:29

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