In Search of Short Gamma-Ray Burst Optical Counterparts with the Zwicky Transient Facility

Tomás Ahumada, Shreya Anand, Michael W. Coughlin, Igor Andreoni, Erik C. Kool, Harsh Kumar, Simeon Reusch, Ana Sagués-Carracedo, Robert Stein, S. Bradley Cenko, Mansi M. Kasliwal, Leo P. Singer, Rachel Dunwoody, Joseph Mangan, Varun Bhalerao, Mattia Bulla, Eric Burns, Matthew J. Graham, David L. Kaplan, Daniel PerleyMouza Almualla, Joshua S. Bloom, Virginia Cunningham, Kishalay De, Pradip Gatkine, Anna Y.Q. Ho, Viraj Karambelkar, Albert K.H. Kong, Yuhan Yao, G. C. Anupama, Sudhanshu Barway, Shaon Ghosh, Ryosuke Itoh, Sheila McBreen, Eric C. Bellm, Christoffer Fremling, Russ R. Laher, Ashish A. Mahabal, Reed L. Riddle, Philippe Rosnet, Ben Rusholme, Roger Smith, Jesper Sollerman, Elisabetta Bissaldi, Corinne Fletcher, Rachel Hamburg, Bagrat Mailyan, Christian Malacaria, Oliver Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The Fermi Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) triggers on-board in response to ∼40 short gamma-ray bursts (SGRBs) per year; however, their large localization regions have made the search for optical counterparts a challenging endeavour. We have developed and executed an extensive program with the wide field of view of the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) camera, mounted on the Palomar 48 inch Oschin telescope (P48), to perform target-of-opportunity (ToO) observations on 10 Fermi-GBM SGRBs during 2018 and 2020-2021. Bridging the large sky areas with small field-of-view optical telescopes in order to track the evolution of potential candidates, we look for the elusive SGRB afterglows and kilonovae (KNe) associated with these high-energy events. No counterpart has yet been found, even though more than 10 ground-based telescopes, part of the Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen (GROWTH) network, have taken part in these efforts. The candidate selection procedure and the follow-up strategy have shown that ZTF is an efficient instrument for searching for poorly localized SGRBs, retrieving a reasonable number of candidates to follow up and showing promising capabilities as the community approaches the multi-messenger era. Based on the median limiting magnitude of ZTF, our searches would have been able to retrieve a GW170817-like event up to ∼200 Mpc and SGRB afterglows to z = 0.16 or 0.4, depending on the assumed underlying energy model. Future ToOs will expand the horizon to z = 0.2 and 0.7, respectively.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number40
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Based on observations obtained with the Samuel Oschin Telescope 48 inch and the 60 inch Telescope at the Palomar Observatory as part of the Zwicky Transient Facility project. ZTF is supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants No. AST-1440341 and AST-2034437 and a collaboration including current partners Caltech, IPAC, the Weizmann Institute for Science, the Oskar Klein Center at Stockholm University, the University of Maryland, Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron and Humboldt University, the TANGO Consortium of Taiwan, the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, Trinity College Dublin, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, IN2P3, University of Warwick, Ruhr University Bochum, Northwestern University and former partners the University of Washington, Los Alamos National Laboratories, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratories. Operations are conducted by COO, IPAC, and UW. This work was supported by the GROWTH (Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen) project funded by the National Science Foundation under PIRE grant No. 1545949. GROWTH is a collaborative project among California Institute of Technology (USA), University of Maryland College Park (USA), University of Wisconsin Milwaukee (USA), Texas Tech University (USA), San Diego State University (USA), University of Washington (USA), Los Alamos National Laboratory (USA), Tokyo Institute of Technology (Japan), National Central University (Taiwan), Indian Institute of Astrophysics (India), Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (India), Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel), The Oskar Klein Centre at Stockholm University (Sweden), Humboldt University (Germany), Liverpool John Moores University (UK) and University of Sydney (Australia). T.A. and H.K. thank the LSSTC Data Science Fellowship Program, which is funded by LSSTC, NSF Cybertraining grant #1829740, the Brinson Foundation, and the Moore Foundation; their participation in the program has benefited this work. M.M.K. acknowledges generous support from the David and Lucille Packard Foundation. M.W.C. acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation with grant Nos. PHY-2010970 and OAC-2117997. S.A. acknowledges support from the GROWTH PIRE grant No. 1545949. A.S.C. acknowledges support from the G.R.E.A.T research environment, funded by Vetenskapsrå det, the Swedish Research Council, project number 2016-06012. M.B. acknowledges support from the Swedish Research Council (Reg. no. 2020-03330). S.R. acknowledges support by the Helmholtz Weizmann Research School on Multimessenger Astronomy, funded through the Initiative and Networking Fund of the Helmholtz Association, DESY, the Weizmann Institute, the Humboldt University of Berlin, and the University of Potsdam. ECK acknowledges support from the G.R.E.A.T research environment funded by Vetenskapsrå det, the Swedish Research Council, under project number 2016-06012, and support from The Wenner-Gren Foundations. P.R. acknowledges the support received from the Agence Nationale de la Recherche of the French government through the program Investissements d’Avenir” (16-IDEX-0001 CAP 20-25) The material is based on work supported by NASA under award No. 80GSFC17M0002. Based on observations obtained at the international Gemini Observatory, a program of NSF's NOIRLab, which is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation on behalf of the Gemini Observatory partnership: the National Science Foundation (United States), National Research Council (Canada), Agencia Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo (Chile), Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación (Argentina), Ministério da Ciência, Tecnologia, Inovações e Comunicações (Brazil), and Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute (Republic of Korea). The observations were obtained as part of Gemini Director's Discretionary Program GN-2021A-Q-102. The Gemini data were processed using DRAGONS (Data Reduction for Astronomy from Gemini Observatory North and South). This work was enabled by observations made from the Gemini North telescope, located within the Maunakea Science Reserve and adjacent to the summit of Maunakea. We are grateful for the privilege of observing the Universe from a place that is unique in both its astronomical quality and its cultural significance. The ZTF forced-photometry service was funded under the Heising-Simons Foundation grant No. 12540303 (PI: Graham). These results also made use of Lowell Observatory's Lowell Discovery Telescope (LDT), formerly the Discovery Channel Telescope. Lowell operates the LDT in partnership with Boston University, Northern Arizona University, the University of Maryland and the University of Toledo. Partial support of the LDT was provided by Discovery Communications. LMI was built by Lowell Observatory using funds from the National Science Foundation (AST-1005313). The Liverpool Telescope is operated on the island of La Palma by Liverpool John Moores University in the Spanish Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos of the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias with financial support from the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council. SED Machine is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under grant No. 1106171. GIT is a 70 cm telescope with a 0.°7 field of view, set up by the Indian Institute of Astrophysics (IIA) and the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay (IITB) with funding from DST-SERB and IUSSTF. It is located at the Indian Astronomical Observatory, operated by IIA. We acknowledge funding by the IITB alumni batch of 1994, which partially supports operations of the telescope. Telescope technical details are available at .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022. The Author(s). Published by the American Astronomical Society.


Dive into the research topics of 'In Search of Short Gamma-Ray Burst Optical Counterparts with the Zwicky Transient Facility'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this