NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2013A-0214

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Proposal Information for 2013A-0214


PI: Edo Berger, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, eberger@cfa.harvard.edu
Address: Astronomy Department, 60 Garden St. MS-19, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA

CoI: Armin Rest, Space Telescope Science Institute
CoI: Ryan Chornock, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
CoI: Alicia Soderberg, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
CoI: Brian Metzger, Princeton University
CoI: Dan Kasen, UC Berkeley
CoI: Duncan Brown, Syracuse University
CoI: Eliot Quataert, UC Berkeley
CoI: Christopher Fryer, Los Alamos National Laboratory
CoI: Ryan Foley, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
CoI: Wen-fai Fong, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
CoI: Raffaella Margutti, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
CoI: Maria Drout, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
CoI: Nathan Sanders, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
CoI: Ragnhild Lunnan, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
CoI: Stephen Fairhurst, Cardiff University
CoI: Patrick Sutton, Cardiff University
CoI: Laura Cadonati, UMass Amherst

Title: The DECam Advanced LIGO Pilot Survey: A Benchmark for the Era of Joint GW/EM Astronomy

Abstract: \noindent The first direct detections of gravitational waves with Advanced LIGO/VIRGO are anticipated in ~\!2015. These detectors will pinpoint NS-NS/NS-BH binary mergers to ~\!10^2 deg^2 at a typical distance of ~\!200 Mpc. While the GW data will provide unique insight, such as the mass and spin distributions of neutron stars and black holes, some critical information will only be attainable from the detection of electromagnetic counterparts. This includes the distance (e.g., energy scale), the astrophysical context (e.g., galaxy types, stellar populations), and the merger hydrodynamics (e.g., ejecta velocity/mass, relativistic jets). The most promising EM counterpart is a ``kilonova'' - an isotropic optical transient powered by the radioactive decay of r-process elements synthesized in the merger. However, kilonovae are expected to be dim (i~\!23.5 mag) and fast- evolving (~\!5 days), requiring large wide-field telescopes for detection in a typical GW localization region. Equally important, systematic elimination of contaminants is essential to uniquely identify such a counterpart. Here we propose to undertake the first systematic search achieving the areal coverage, depth, and cadence required for a GW counterpart search. The results will set the benchmark for follow-up plans of GW triggers.


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