Optimizing serendipitous detections of kilonovae: cadence and filter selection
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.
© 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 (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/open_access/funder_policies/chorus/standard_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.
Submitted - 2011.10421.pdf
Published - stab1090.pdf