Optimizing multitelescope observations of gravitational-wave counterparts

Michael W. Coughlin, Sarah Antier, David Corre, Khalid Alqassimi, Shreya Anand, Nelson Christensen, David A. Coulter, Ryan J. Foley, Nidhal Guessoum, Timothy M. Mikulski, Mouza Al Mualla, Draco Reed, Duo Tao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


The ever-increasing sensitivity of the network of gravitational-wave detectors has resulted in the accelerated rate of detections from compact binary coalescence systems in the third observing run of Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo. Not only has the event rate increased, but also the distances to which phenomena can be detected, leading to a rise in the required sky volume coverage to search for counterparts. Additionally, the improvement of the detectors has resulted in the discovery of more compact binary mergers involving neutron stars, revitalizing dedicated follow-up campaigns. While significant effort has been made by the community to optimize single telescope observations, using both synoptic and galaxy-targeting methods, less effort has been paid to coordinated observations in a network. This is becoming crucial, as the advent of gravitational-wave astronomy has garnered interest around the globe, resulting in abundant networks of telescopes available to search for counterparts. In this paper, we extend some of the techniques developed for single telescopes to a telescope network. We describe simple modifications to these algorithms and demonstrate them on existing network examples. These algorithms are implemented in the open-source software gwemopt, used by some follow-up teams, for ease of use by the broader community.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5775-5783
Number of pages9
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 11 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
M. W. Coughlin is supported by the David and Ellen Lee Postdoctoral Fellowship at the California Institute of Technology. Sarah Antier is supported by the CNES Postdoctoral Fellowship at Lab-oratoire Astroparticle et Cosmologie. David Corre is supported by a CNRS Postdoctoral Fellowship at Laboratoire de l’Accélérateur Linéaire. N. Christensen and T. Mikulski acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation with grant number PHY-1806990, and T. Mikulski also acknowledges support from the Towsley fund at Carleton College. The UCSC (D. Coulter, R. Foley, D. Reed) team is supported in part by NASA grant NNG17PX03C, NSF grants AST-1518052 and AST-1911206, the Gordon & Betty Moore Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation, and by a fellowship from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation to R.J.F.


  • Gravitational waves
  • Telescopes

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