IPTF SEARCH for AN OPTICAL COUNTERPART to GRAVITATIONAL-WAVE TRANSIENT GW150914

M. M. Kasliwal, S. B. Cenko, L. P. Singer, A. Corsi, Y. Cao, T. Barlow, V. Bhalerao, E. Bellm, D. Cook, G. E. Duggan, R. Ferretti, D. A. Frail, A. Horesh, R. Kendrick, S. R. Kulkarni, R. Lunnan, N. Palliyaguru, R. Laher, F. Masci, I. ManulisA. A. Miller, P. E. Nugent, D. Perley, T. A. Prince, R. M. Quimby, J. Rana, U. Rebbapragada, B. Sesar, A. Singhal, J. Surace, A. Van Sistine

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Abstract

The intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF) autonomously responded to and promptly tiled the error region of the first gravitational-wave event GW150914 to search for an optical counterpart. Only a small fraction of the total localized region was immediately visible in the northern night sky, due both to Sun-angle and elevation constraints. Here, we report on the transient candidates identified and rapid follow-up undertaken to determine the nature of each candidate. Even in the small area imaged of 126 deg2, after extensive filtering, eight candidates were deemed worthy of additional follow-up. Within two hours, all eight were spectroscopically classified by the Keck II telescope. Curiously, even though such events are rare, one of our candidates was a superluminous supernova. We obtained radio data with the Jansky Very Large Array and X-ray follow-up with the Swift satellite for this transient. None of our candidates appear to be associated with the gravitational-wave trigger, which is unsurprising given that GW150914 came from the merger of two stellar-mass black holes. This end-to-end discovery and follow-up campaign bodes well for future searches in this post-detection era of gravitational waves.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberL24
JournalAstrophysical Journal Letters
Volume824
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 20 2016

Keywords

  • gravitational waves
  • methods: observational
  • surveys
  • techniques: spectroscopic

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