LIGO Document G1500031-x0

Gravitational Wave Observations and Optical Follow-up with Advanced LIGO

Document #:
LIGO-G1500031-x0
Document type:
G - Presentations (eg Graphics)
Abstract:
Advanced LIGO is preparing for its first observing run in late 2015, with the first direct detections of gravitational-wave (GW) transients to follow soon. Though this will be a groundbreaking technical achievement on its own, targeted follow-up with synoptic optical survey instruments may be a key to revealing theses sourcesí electromagnetic (EM) counterparts and fully understanding their astrophysical context. Over the past few years, the fast and faint nature of these EM signatures combined with the coarse position reconstruction of ground-based GW detectors has forced us to rethink many aspects of the Advanced LIGO algorithms and infrastructure, as well as to push the the limits of the optical facilities and data analysis. I will discuss a key Advanced LIGO science target, binary neutron star mergers, and what to expect from the LIGO/Virgo detector network based on extensive simulations. I will discuss the unique challenges presented by searching for the GW signatures in real time, how the Advanced LIGO and Virgo analysis will get alerts and sky maps to a consortium of observers within minutes of a detection, and how resulting EM candidates may be reported, catalogued, and shared. Focusing on the Palomar Transient Factory and the Zwicky Transient Facility and drawing on successes and lessons learned from searching for optical counterparts of Fermi gamma-ray bursts, I will describe the tiled optical searches, from which candidates will be found based on machine learning, data mining, and tight coupling between the machine, the astronomer, and follow-up observations with additional instruments.
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