Dynamic scheduling: target of opportunity observations of gravitational wave events

Mouza Almualla, Michael W. Coughlin, Shreya Anand, Khalid Alqassimi, Nidhal Guessoum, Leo P. Singer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The simultaneous detection of electromagnetic and gravitational waves from the coalescence of two neutron stars (GW170817 and GRB170817A) has ushered in a new era of ‘multimessenger’ astronomy, with electromagnetic detections spanning from gamma to radio. This great opportunity for new scientific investigations raises the issue of how the available multimessenger tools can best be integrated to constitute a powerful method to study the transient Universe in particular. To facilitate the classification of possible optical counterparts to gravitational wave events, it is important to optimize the scheduling of observations and the filtering of transients, both key elements of the follow-up process. In this work, we describe the existing workflow whereby telescope networks such as GRANDMA and GROWTH are currently scheduled; we then present modifications we have developed for the scheduling process specifically, so as to face the relevant challenges that have appeared during the latest observing run of Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo. We address issues with scheduling more than one epoch for multiple fields within a skymap, especially for large and disjointed localizations. This is done in two ways: by optimizing the maximum number of fields that can be scheduled and by splitting up the lobes within the skymap by right ascension to be scheduled individually. In addition, we implement the ability to take previously observed fields into consideration when rescheduling. We show the improvements that these modifications produce in making the search for optical counterparts more efficient, and we point to areas needing further improvement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4366-4371
Number of pages6
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
MA and KA thank LIGO Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology for hosting the visit that led to this publication. MWC was supported by the David and Ellen Lee Postdoctoral Fellowship at the California Institute of Technology. SA acknowledges support from the GROWTH project funded by the National Science Foundation under grant no. 1545949. NG acknowledges a research grant from the Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (United Arab Emirates), which supported this work.

Publisher Copyright:
2020 The Author(s)


  • Gravitational waves – telescopes; methods: observational


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