Identification and follow up of electromagnetic counterparts of gravitational wave candidate events
The LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) and the Virgo Collaboration currently plan to start taking data in 2015, and we expect the sensitivity of the network to improve over time. Gravitational-wave transient candidates will be identified promptly upon acquisition of the data; we aim for distributing information with an initial latency of a few tens of minutes initially, possibly improving later. The LSC and the Virgo Collaboration (LVC) are now working to develop a program of accompanying electromagnetic observations. Early positional accuracies of the GW candidates will evolve in time, as described in arxiv.org:1304.0670. During early science runs before publication of the first four gravitational wave events, alerts will be available only through partnerships to be developed under this program (ref. LIGO-M1200055). Partners will be asked to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) involving an agreement on deliverables, publication policies, confidentiality, and reporting. After the publication of the first four gravitational wave events, the current LVC plan is to release alerts on all highly significant detection candidates promptly to the entire scientific community.
We foresee the following procedure to develop a collaboration of LVC and partners for defining an observing program:
- Open call for Letters of Interest (LoI), due July 26 2013. Professional astronomers or physicists engaged in astronomical research are identified as qualified LoI submitters for the purpose of this step. This call was made available on June 6, 2013.
- Representatives of qualified submitted LoI are expected to attend either of two meetings to be held at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences (KNAW) in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, on August 29/30 and at The University of Chicago, US, on September 10/11. The meetings will be held in the afternoon of the first day and the morning of the second day. The purpose of these meetings will be to discuss definitions of the modes of participation, and discussion on how to develop and enhance the scientific return and electromagnetic identification and follow up program. The possible content of a standard MoU template as well as criteria for signing this agreement will also be discussed. Detailed information about the meetings is provided at the above links.
- Following the Amsterdam and Chicago meetings, an MoU template will be finalized to cover each mode of participation. A call for proposals to sign a standard MoU establishing agreement with the LVC for identification and follow up of GW triggers will be released in the Fall of 2013. Proposers will be expected to address a set of criteria regarding expected scientific return. We anticipate a deadline in Fall 2013.
- After an evaluation by internal and external LVC Astronomy committees, MoUs with selected partners will be signed by early Summer 2014.
Devour thy Neighbor: An artist's illustration of two neutron stars close to merger look misshaped, becoming more oblong the closer they get to one another. A black hole is then formed and gamma rays shoot out as a GRB. (Credit: NASA/Swift)