PI: Wen-fai Fong, U. of Arizona, firstname.lastname@example.org
CoI: Stephen Cenko, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
CoI: Daniel Perley, Liverpool John Moores University
CoI: Bethany Cobb, George Washington University
CoI: Nial Tanvir, University of Leicester
CoI: Antonino Cucchiara, University of the Virgin Islands
CoI: Matt Nicholl, Harvard U.
CoI: Andrew Levan, University of Warwick
CoI: Ryan Chornock, Ohio U.
CoI: Edo Berger, Harvard U.
Title: Probing the Properties of Compact Object Mergers: Rapid Observations of Short Gamma-ray Bursts
Abstract: Short-duration gamma-ray bursts (SGRBs) are a relativistic class of explosions that are pinpointed to host galaxies via the detection of their faint and rapidly-fading optical afterglows. The most favored progenitors of SGRBs are NS-NS/NS-BH mergers, which are premier sources of gravitational wave emission and likely sites of heavy element production in the universe. The precise localization of SGRBs thus offers a unique and complementary way to make progress in compact object merger studies in the era of GW discovery. Here, we propose to use rapid TOO observations with Gemini to identify the afterglows of SGRBs, and perform spectroscopy at the explosion site of one bright (r<22 mag) event to determine the burst redshift and properties of the burst environment. Following the successful identification of a SGRB at z<0.3, our proposal includes a search for the signature of heavy element production (a NIR "kilonova"), which will place vital constraints on properties of the compact object merger ejecta. This search will also inform the luminosities and colors of kilonovae, critical inputs to searches following gravitational wave events detected with Advanced LIGO/Virgo. We focus our proposal on high-impact frontiers in SGRB science that are well-matched to the capabilities of Gemini.
Program Type: Standard/Extragalactic
Run 2 (2017B): GEM-SQ/GMOSS -- 4.9hrs band 1
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