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Published March 2012 | Published
Journal Article Open

Implementation and testing of the first prompt search for gravitational wave transients with electromagnetic counterparts

Abstract

Aims. A transient astrophysical event observed in both gravitational wave (GW) and electromagnetic (EM) channels would yield rich scientific rewards. A first program initiating EM follow-ups to possible transient GW events has been developed and exercised by the LIGO and Virgo community in association with several partners. In this paper, we describe and evaluate the methods used to promptly identify and localize GW event candidates and to request images of targeted sky locations. Methods. During two observing periods (Dec. 17, 2009 to Jan. 8, 2010 and Sep. 2 to Oct. 20, 2010), a low-latency analysis pipeline was used to identify GW event candidates and to reconstruct maps of possible sky locations. A catalog of nearby galaxies and Milky Way globular clusters was used to select the most promising sky positions to be imaged, and this directional information was delivered to EM observatories with time lags of about thirty minutes. A Monte Carlo simulation has been used to evaluate the low-latency GW pipeline's ability to reconstruct source positions correctly. Results. For signals near the detection threshold, our low-latency algorithms often localized simulated GW burst signals to tens of square degrees, while neutron star/neutron star inspirals and neutron star/black hole inspirals were localized to a few hundred square degrees. Localization precision improves for moderately stronger signals. The correct sky location of signals well above threshold and originating from nearby galaxies may be observed with ~50% or better probability with a few pointings of wide-field telescopes.

Additional Information

© 2012 ESO. Received: 6 October 2011. Accepted: 22 December 2011. Published online: 29 March 2012. The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the United States National Science Foundation for the construction and operation of the LIGO Laboratory, the Science and Technology Facilities Council of the United Kingdom, the Max-Planck-Society, and the State of Niedersachsen/Germany for support of the construction and operation of the GEO600 detector, and the Italian Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare and the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique for the construction and operation of the Virgo detector. The authors also gratefully acknowledge the support of gravitational wave research by these agencies and by the Australian Research Council, the International Science Linkages program of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research of India, the Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare of Italy, the Spanish Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia, the Conselleria d'Economia Hisenda i Innovació of the Govern de les Illes Balears, the Foundation for Fundamental Research on Matter supported by The Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, the Polish Ministry of Science and Higher Education, the FOCUS Programme of Foundation for Polish Science, the Royal Society, the Scottish Funding Council, the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance, The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Carnegie Trust, the Leverhulme Trust, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the Research Corporation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The authors acknowledge support for TAROT from the French Ministère des Affaires Étrangères and Ministère de l'Enseignement Supérieur et de la Recherche. The observations by ROTSE-III were supported by NASA grant NNX08AV63G and NSF grant PHY-0801007. The work with Swift was partially supported through a NASA grant/cooperative agreement number NNX09AL61G to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The contribution from the "Pi of the Sky" group was financed by the Polish Ministry of Science in 2008-2011 as a research project. We thank Joshua S. Bloom for useful discussions on the rates of PTF transients and their classification. This document has been assigned LIGO Laboratory document number LIGO-P1000061-v19.

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August 22, 2023
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