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Identifying Elusive Electromagnetic Counterparts to Gravitational Wave Mergers: An End-to-end Simulation

Nissanke, Samaya and Kasliwal, Mansi and Georgieva, Alexandra (2013) Identifying Elusive Electromagnetic Counterparts to Gravitational Wave Mergers: An End-to-end Simulation. Astrophysical Journal, 767 (2). Art. No. 124. ISSN 0004-637X. doi:10.1088/0004-637X/767/2/124.

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Combined gravitational wave (GW) and electromagnetic (EM) observations of compact binary mergers should enable detailed studies of astrophysical processes in the strong-field gravity regime. This decade, ground-based GW interferometers promise to routinely detect compact binary mergers. Unfortunately, networks of GW interferometers have poor angular resolution on the sky and their EM signatures are predicted to be faint. Therefore, a challenging goal will be to unambiguously pinpoint the EM counterparts of GW mergers. We perform the first comprehensive end-to-end simulation that focuses on: (1) GW sky localization, distance measures, and volume errors with two compact binary populations and four different GW networks; (2) subsequent EM detectability by a slew of multiwavelength telescopes; and (3) final identification of the merger counterpart amidst a sea of possible astrophysical false positives. First, we find that double neutron star binary mergers can be detected out to a maximum distance of 400 Mpc (or 750 Mpc) by three (or five) detector GW networks, respectively. Neutron-star-black-hole binary mergers can be detected a factor of 1.5 further out; their median to maximum sky localizations are 50-170 deg^2 (or 6-65 deg^2) for a three (or five) detector GW network. Second, by optimizing depth, cadence, and sky area, we quantify relative fractions of optical counterparts that are detectable by a suite of different aperture-size telescopes across the globe. Third, we present five case studies to illustrate the diversity of scenarios in secure identification of the EM counterpart. We discuss the case of a typical binary, neither beamed nor nearby, and the challenges associated with identifying an EM counterpart at both low and high Galactic latitudes. For the first time, we demonstrate how construction of low-latency GW volumes in conjunction with local universe galaxy catalogs can help solve the problem of false positives. We conclude with strategies that would best prepare us for successfully identifying the elusive EM counterpart of a GW merger.

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Kasliwal, Mansi0000-0002-5619-4938
Additional Information:© 2013 American Astronomical Society. Received 2012 September 7; accepted 2012 December 18; published 2013 April 4. M.M.K. acknowledges generous support from the Hubble Fellowship and Carnegie-Princeton Fellowship. A.G. thanks the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program at Caltech. We are very grateful to Jean-Michel Désert, Dale Frail, Chris Hirata, Shri Kulkarni, and SetuMohta for careful reading of the manuscript. We thank Ernazar Abdikamalov, Paul Groot, Gregg Hallinan, Brian Metzger, Sterl Phinney, Tony Piro, Tom Prince, Jon Sievers, and Linqing Wen for useful discussions. S.M.N. thanks the ITC for hospitality and discussions there with Edo Berger and Josh Grindlay. We thank Anand Sengupta and Tarun Souradeep for providing LIGO India’s (previously referred to as IndIGO) position and orientation. We thank Haixing Miao for providing the anticipated advanced LIGO noise curve with optical squeezing and Masaki Ando, Larry Price, and Stan Whitcomb for KAGRA and LIGO follow-up references. We thank Neil Gehrels, DavidKaplan, Peter Nugent, and Fang Yuan for providing specifications of Lobster-ISS, WIYN, La Silla Quest, and Skymapper, respectively. Some of the simulations were performed using the Sunnyvale cluster at CITA. Part of this work was performed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Government sponsorship acknowledged.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Hubble FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Carnegie-Princeton FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF)UNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:binaries: close; catalogs; gamma-ray burst: general; gravitational waves; stars: neutron; surveys
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20130521-132403451
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Official Citation:Identifying Elusive Electromagnetic Counterparts to Gravitational Wave Mergers: An End-to-end Simulation Samaya Nissanke et al. 2013 ApJ 767 124
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:38611
Deposited On:21 May 2013 21:30
Last Modified:09 Nov 2021 23:38

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