Developing optimal strategies for observing the electro-magnetic counterparts of gravitational-wave events

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: School of Physics and Astronomy

Abstract

The objective of this project will be to develop and apply Bayesian methodology to the problem of optimising follow up observations of the electro-magnetic counterparts of compact binary coalescence gravitational-wave events. The main context and focus for this work will be optical and near infra-red observations of kilonovae, following binary neutron star coalescences, but it is anticipated that the Bayesian tools developed will have broader applications. The project will seek to develop strategies for inferring the optimal number, epoch, exposure time and colour bands of kilonovae observations that will maximise the probability of detecting the kilonova and/or eliminating false positive detections from other transient events. The methods developed will recognise and fully accommodate the limited sky localisation capabilities of ground-based networks of gravitational-wave interferometers, and will also therefore seek to investigate strategies for optimally 'tiling' the sky localisation regions in which the gravitational-wave candidates are observed - building on and extending to more realistic cases methodology recently developed at Glasgow. This strand of the research may involve investigation of possible relationships between gravitational-wave sources, kilonovae and their host galaxy properties, developing earlier work at Glasgow on the "multi-messenger probability function". The methods developed will involve computing Bayesian posterior odds ratios for kilonova detections versus detections of other transient events. As the project develops, strategies for not simply detecting kilonovae but also characterising and estimating their source parameters will be explored. Machine learning methods may be appropriate to address such problems, and training in the application of these methods will be provided to the student. An extended long-term attachment to the LIGO Observatories will also be arranged, to work on characterisation of the calibration errors associated with the interferometers - and how these affect the sky localisation capabilities of the detector network.

Publications

10 25 50

 
Title LIGO-related Artwork 
Description Artwork of instrumentation for outreach. This was going to be presented at the now cancelled (due to coronavirus) LVK meeting 2020. 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact Product shared on social media, raised visibility of research 
 
Description LIGO Scientific Collaboration 
Organisation LIGO Scientific Collaboration
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Work on multi-messenger astronomy Work on calibration, in particular novel methods of calibrating detectors Work on environmental impact on detector (analysis for a wind fence at LIGO Hanford)
Collaborator Contribution An international collaboration for LIGO, Virgo and KAGRA - access to data, mentorship, fellowship programme at one of the observatories in the US
Impact Multiple papers 3.5 month visit to LIGO site at Hanford Several outreach events
Start Year 2017
 
Description Black Hole Hunters (panel) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A presentation with a panel of experts - many questions and a lot of interest from the audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Edinburgh Festival of Physics 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Stall at a physics festival - few hundreds of participants of all ages.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Explorathon (European's Researcher Night) stall 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A stall at a very popular event celebrating researchers in Europe - attendance of the whole event was around ~1000. A lot of interest in the stall, both from the general public and researchers from other fields.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description I'm a scientist, get me out of here 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact A series of live chats and questions from young students from many schools in Britain and one school in Kazakhstan. The students were very interested in the research and what it was like to be a scientist.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description LIGO tours 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Recurring tours of LIGO Hanford. High attendance for each of them, with a lot of interest and enthusiasm from attendees.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Open Days 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Undergraduate students
Results and Impact Open days for prospective undergraduate and postgraduate students (recurring). A lot of interest in joining the university after discussions with attendees.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Science Lates 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Stall at "Science Lates" at the Glasgow Science Centre - an evening of science activities aimed at adults. Attendance is usually 500+, the stall generated a lot of interest and a lot of discussion.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description Science Lates with Sci-curious podcast 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A stall at an event at the Glasgow Science centre aimed at adults. This was following a podcast aimed at highlighting LGBTQ+ people in STEM. Attendance was 50-100, lower than other science lates due to storms.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
 
Description Talk at LIGO Hanford International Physics Educators Program 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact ~20 teachers from all over the world attended this talk as part of an international programme for physics educators. The talk generated a lot of interest, and the teachers reported wanting to bring their new knowledge to their students.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019