NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2017A-0386

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Program Information for 2017A-0386


PI: Leo Singer, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, leo.p.singer@nasa.gov
Address: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Code 661, 8800 Greenbelt Rd., Greenbelt, MD, 20771 USA

CoI: Stephen Cenko, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
CoI: Mansi Kasliwal, California Institute of Technology
CoI: Iair Arcavi, UC Santa Barbara
CoI: John Cannizzo, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
CoI: Neil Gehrels, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Title: Going the Distance: Mapping Host Galaxies of LIGO and Virgo Gravitational-Wave Sources in Three Dimensions

Abstract: Advanced LIGO observed gravitational waves (GWs) from a binary black hole merger in its first observing run (O1) in September 2015. It is anticipated that LIGO will soon detect the first binary neutron star mergers. The most promising electromagnetic counterparts to such events are kilonovae: fast, faint transients powered by the radioactive decay of the r-process ejecta. Joint gravitational-wave and electromagnetic observations of such transients hold the key to many longstanding problems, from the nature of short GRBS to the cosmic production sites of the r-process elements to calibration-free cosmology. Due to the large LIGO error regions of 100 deg2, synoptic survey telescopes have dominated the search for LIGO counterparts. Due to the paucity of infrared instruments with multi-deg2 fields of view, infrared observations have been lacking. Near-infrared emission should not only be a more robust signature of kilonovae than optical emission, but should also be several magnitudes brighter and be detectable for much longer, a week after merger rather than a day. We propose a novel approach to harness the most sensitive, but relatively narrow-field, infrared instruments available on Gemini to pinpoint these elusive events. Due to the extremely modest ~100 Mpc range of Advanced LIGO, we can combine the sky position and distance inferred from LIGO with a catalog of galaxies to select a modest number of potential hosts for any given LIGO event. We propose a deep, targeted, near infrared search of ~30 potential host galaxies for each LIGO event to track down kilonovae at a wavelength that is optimally matched to theoretical predictions.

Program Type: Standard/Extragalactic

Scheduled Nights:
Run 2 (2017A):  GEM-SQ/Flamingos2 -- 16hrs band 3 (GS-2017A-Q-65)


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NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2017A-0386

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