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Published January 2022 | Submitted + Published
Journal Article Open

Optimizing Cadences with Realistic Light-curve Filtering for Serendipitous Kilonova Discovery with Vera Rubin Observatory


Current and future optical and near-infrared wide-field surveys have the potential to find kilonovae, the optical and infrared counterparts to neutron star mergers, independently of gravitational-wave or high-energy gamma-ray burst triggers. The ability to discover fast and faint transients such as kilonovae largely depends on the area observed, the depth of those observations, the number of revisits per field in a given time frame, and the filters adopted by the survey; it also depends on the ability to perform rapid follow-up observations to confirm the nature of the transients. In this work, we assess kilonova detectability in existing simulations of the Legacy Survey of Space and Time strategy for the Vera C. Rubin Wide Fast Deep survey, with focus on comparing rolling to baseline cadences. Although currently available cadences can enable the detection of >300 kilonovae out to ∼1400 Mpc over the 10 year survey, we can expect only 3–32 kilonovae similar to GW170817 to be recognizable as fast-evolving transients. We also explore the detectability of kilonovae over the plausible parameter space, focusing on viewing angle and ejecta masses. We find that observations in redder izy bands are crucial for identification of nearby (within 300 Mpc) kilonovae that could be spectroscopically classified more easily than more distant sources. Rubin's potential for serendipitous kilonova discovery could be increased by gain of efficiency with the employment of individual 30 s exposures (as opposed to 2 × 15 s snap pairs), with the addition of red-band observations coupled with same-night observations in g or r bands, and possibly with further development of a new rolling-cadence strategy.

Additional Information

2021. The Author(s). Published by the American Astronomical Society. Original content from this work may be used under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 licence. Any further distribution of this work must maintain attribution to the author(s) and the title of the work, journal citation and DOI. Received 2021 June 12; revised 2021 July 22; accepted 2021 July 26; published 2021 December 22. We thank Peter Yoachim and Lynne Jones. We thank the anonymous referee for comments and suggestions that improved the manuscript. This paper was created in the nursery of the Rubin LSST Transient and Variable Star Science Collaboration. 25 The authors acknowledge the support of the Vera C. Rubin Legacy Survey of Space and Time Transient and Variable Stars Science Collaboration that provided opportunities for collaboration and exchange of ideas and knowledge and of Rubin Observatory in the creation and implementation of this work. The authors acknowledge the support of the LSST Corporation, which enabled the organization of many workshops and hackathons throughout the cadence optimization process by directing private funding to these activities. M.W.C 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). A.G, A.S.C, and E.C.K. acknowledge support from the G.R.E.A.T. research environment funded by Vetenskapsr å det, the Swedish Research Council, under project No. 2016-06012, and support from The Wenner-Gren Foundations. This work was supported by the Preparing for Astrophysics with LSST Program, funded by the Heising Simons Foundation through grant 2021-2975, and administered by Las Cumbres Observatory. This research uses services or data provided by the Astro Data Lab at NSF's National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory. NOIRLab is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), Inc. under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation. Software: LSST metrics analysis framework (MAF; Jones et al. 2014); Astropy (Astropy Collaboration et al. 2013); JupyterHub. 26

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Published - Andreoni_2022_ApJS_258_5.pdf


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Additional details

August 22, 2023
August 22, 2023