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

Singer, Leo P. and Chen, Hsin-Yu and Holz, Daniel E. and Farr, Will M. and Price, Larry R. and Raymond, Vivien and Cenko, S. Bradley and Gehrels, Neil and Cannizzo, John and Kasliwal, Mansi M. and Nissanke, Samaya and Coughlin, Michael and Farr, Ben and Urban, Alex L. and Vitale, Salvatore and Veitch, John and Graff, Philip and Berry, Christopher P. L. and Mohapatra, Satya and Mandel, Ilya (2016) Going the Distance: Mapping Host Galaxies of LIGO and Virgo Sources in Three Dimensions Using Local Cosmography and Targeted Follow-up. Astrophysical Journal Letters, 829 (1). Art. No. L15. ISSN 2041-8205. doi:10.3847/2041-8205/829/1/L15.

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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.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Singer, Leo P.0000-0001-9898-5597
Farr, Will M.0000-0003-1540-8562
Cenko, S. Bradley0000-0003-1673-970X
Kasliwal, Mansi M.0000-0002-5619-4938
Coughlin, Michael0000-0002-8262-2924
Mandel, Ilya0000-0002-6134-8946
Additional Information:© 2016 American Astronomical Society. Received 2016 March 23; revised 2016 July 28; accepted 2016 July 29; published 2016 September 21. We thank the Aspen Center for Physics and NSF grant #1066293 for hospitality during the conception, writing, and editing of this paper. We thank P. Shawhan and F. Tombesi for detailed feedback on the manuscript. Supplementary material, including a sample of reconstructed GW volume FITS files, will be made available at See the Supplement (Singer et al. 2016) in the journal for more details. This is LIGO document P1500071-v7.
Group:LIGO, Palomar Transient Factory
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Subject Keywords:catalogs; galaxies: distances and redshifts; gravitational waves; surveys
Other Numbering System:
Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
LIGO DocumentP1500071-v7
Issue or Number:1
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20160929-081821795
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Leo P. Singer et al 2016 ApJ 829 L15
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:70655
Deposited By: Ruth Sustaita
Deposited On:29 Sep 2016 18:34
Last Modified:11 Nov 2021 04:32

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