After the identification of a candidate γ-ray transient in the error region of the binary black hole (BBH) merger GW150914 by the Fermi satellite, the question of whether BBH mergers can be associated with electromagnetic counterparts remains highly debated. Here, we present radio follow-up observations of GW170608, a BBH merger that occurred during the second observing run (O2) of the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO). Our radio follow-up focused on a specific field contained in the GW170608 sky localization area, where a candidate high-energy transient was detected by the Fermi Large Area Telescope (LAT). We make use of data collected at 1.4 GHz with the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), as well as with the VLA Low-band Ionosphere and Transient Experiment (VLITE). Our analysis is sensitive to potential radio afterglows with luminosity densities L 1.4GHz ⪆ 6 × 1028 erg s-1 Hz-1. In the most optimistic theoretical models, ≈20% of BBH events occurring in massive hosts could be associated with outflows as radio luminous as this. Although we find no evidence for the presence of a radio counterpart associated with the LAT candidate in the GW170608 error region, our analysis demonstrates the feasibility of future radio follow-up observations of well-localized BBHs. Comparing our radio upper limits with theoretical expectations for the radio afterglows potentially associated with jets launched in BBH mergers, we find that for jets of energy ≈1049 erg seen on-axis, only jet angles θ jet ⪆ 40° are compatible with the observations.
- gravitational waves
- radiation mechanisms: General
- radio continuum: General