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Published April 1, 2016 | Published + Submitted
Journal Article Open

Galaxy Strategy for LIGO-Virgo Gravitational Wave Counterpart Searches


In this work we continue a line of inquiry begun in Kanner et al. which detailed a strategy for utilizing telescopes with narrow fields of view, such as the Swift X-ray Telescope (XRT), to localize gravity wave (GW) triggers from LIGO/Virgo. If one considers the brightest galaxies that produce ~50% of the light, then the number of galaxies inside typical GW error boxes will be several tens. We have found that this result applies both in the early years of Advanced LIGO when the range is small and the error boxes large, and in the later years when the error boxes will be small and the range large. This strategy has the beneficial property of reducing the number of telescope pointings by a factor 10 to 100 compared with tiling the entire error box. Additional galaxy count reduction will come from a GW rapid distance estimate which will restrict the radial slice in search volume. Combining the bright galaxy strategy with a convolution based on anticipated GW localizations, we find that the searches can be restricted to about 18±5 galaxies for 2015, about 23±4 for 2017, and about 11±2 for 2020. This assumes a distance localization at or near the putative NS-NS merger range for each target year, and these totals are integrated out to the range. Integrating out to the horizon would roughly double the totals. For nearer localizations the totals would decrease. The galaxy strategy we present in this work will enable numerous sensitive optical and X-ray telescopes with small fields of view to participate meaningfully in searches wherein the prospects for rapidly fading afterglow place a premium on a fast response time.

Additional Information

© 2016 The American Astronomical Society. Received 2015 August 14; accepted 2016 February 5; published 2016 March 30. M.M.K. acknowledges generous support from the Carnegie-Princeton Fellowship. S.N. and L.P.S. thank the Aspen Center for Physics and the NSF Grant #1066293 for hospitality during the editing of this paper. S.N. acknowledges generous support from the Radboud University Excellence Initiative. We thank internal LIGO reviewer Ilya Mandel for excellent feedback on all aspects of the paper.

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Published - apj_820_2_136.pdf

Submitted - 1508.03608v1.pdf


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