Deep Rapid Optical Follow-Up of Gravitational Wave Sources with the Dark Energy Camera

Philip Cowperthwaite (CfA)
October 13, 2017 - 12:15pm


The detection of an electromagnetic counterpart associated with a gravitational wave detection by the Advanced LIGO and VIRGO interferometers is one of the great observational challenges of our time. The large localization regions and potentially faint counterparts require the use of wide-field, large aperture telescopes. As a result, the Dark Energy Camera, a 3.3 sq deg CCD imager on the 4-m Blanco telescope at CTIO in Chile is the most powerful instrument for this task in the Southern Hemisphere. I will report on the results from our joint program between the community and members of the dark energy survey to conduct rapid and efficient follow-up of gravitational wave sources. This includes systematic searches for optical counterparts, as well as developing an understanding of contaminating sources on timescales not normally probed by traditional untargeted supernova surveys. I will additionally comment on the immense science gains to be made by a joint detection and discuss future prospects from the standpoint of both next generation wide-field telescopes and next generation gravitational wave detectors.