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Optimizing serendipitous detections of kilonovae: cadence and filter selection

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. (2021) Optimizing serendipitous detections of kilonovae: cadence and filter selection. Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 504 (2). pp. 2822-2831. ISSN 0035-8711. doi:10.1093/mnras/stab1090.

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The rise of multimessenger 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 optical/near-infrared counterparts of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) and gravitational-wave (GW) signals, known as kilonovae. With surveys such as the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), which observes the sky with a cadence of ∼3 d, 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. Thus, it is beneficial to optimize the survey cadence for realtime kilonova identification and enable further photometric and spectroscopic observations. We explore how the cadence of wide field-of-view surveys like ZTF can be improved to facilitate such identifications. We show that with improved observational choices, e.g. the adoption of three epochs per night on a ∼ nightly basis, and the prioritization of redder photometric bands, detection efficiencies improve by about a factor of two relative to the nominal cadence. We also provide realistic hypothetical constraints on the kilonova rate as a form of comparison between strategies, assuming that no kilonovae are detected throughout the long-term execution of the respective observing plan. These results demonstrate how an optimal use of ZTF increases the likelihood of kilonova discovery independent of GWs or GRBs, thereby allowing for a sensitive search with less interruption of its nominal cadence through Target of Opportunity programs.

Item Type:Article
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
Alternate Title:Towards regular serendipitous detections of kilonovae by wide-field surveys
Additional Information:© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Royal Astronomical Society. This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model ( Accepted 2021 April 14. Received 2021 April 14; in original form 2020 November 21. We thank Brad Cenko, Mansi Kasliwal, and David Kaplan for the valuable suggestions provided throughout the process of writing this paper. We would also like to thank the anonymous reviewer for their insightful comments. The group at the American University of Sharjah acknowledges a research grant from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (UAE), which supported this work. Shreya Anand acknowledges support from the GROWTH-PIRE grant 1545949. Michael W. Coughlin acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation with grant no. PHY-2010970. M.B. acknowledges support from the Swedish Research Council (Reg. no. 2020-03330). Based on observations obtained with the Samuel Oschin Telescope 48-inch and the 60-inch Telescope at the Palomar Observatory as part of the ZTF 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. Data Availability: The data underlying this article will be shared on reasonable request to the corresponding author.
Group:Zwicky Transient Facility
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Mohammed Bin Rashid Space CentreUNSPECIFIED
Swedish Research Council2020-03330
ZTF partner institutionsUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:methods: observational – telescopes – neutron star mergers
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20210202-095217476
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Mouza Almualla, Shreya Anand, Michael W Coughlin, Tim Dietrich, Nidhal Guessoum, Ana Sagués Carracedo, Tomás Ahumada, Igor Andreoni, Sarah Antier, Eric C Bellm, Mattia Bulla, Leo P Singer, Optimizing serendipitous detections of kilonovae: cadence and filter selection, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 504, Issue 2, June 2021, Pages 2822–2831,
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:07 Jun 2021 23:09

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