Predicting electromagnetic counterparts using low-latency gravitational-wave data products

Cosmin Stachie, Michael W. Coughlin, Tim Dietrich, Sarah Antier, Mattia Bulla, Nelson Christensen, Reed Essick, Philippe Landry, Benoit Mours, Federico Schianchi, Andrew Toivonen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Searches for gravitational-wave counterparts have been going in earnest since GW170817 and the discovery of AT2017gfo. Since then, the lack of detection of other optical counterparts connected to binary neutron star or black hole-neutron star candidates has highlighted the need for a better discrimination criterion to support this effort. At the moment, low-latency gravitational-wave alerts contain preliminary information about binary properties and hence whether a detected binary might have an electromagnetic counterpart. The current alert method is a classifier that estimates the probability that there is a debris disc outside the black hole created during the merger as well as the probability of a signal being a binary neutron star, a black hole-neutron star, a binary black hole, or of terrestrial origin. In this work, we expand upon this approach to both predict the ejecta properties and provide contours of potential light curves for these events, in order to improve the follow-up observation strategy. The various sources of uncertainty are discussed, and we conclude that our ignorance about the ejecta composition and the insufficient constraint of the binary parameters by low-latency pipelines represent the main limitations. To validate the method, we test our approach on real events from the second and third Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)-Virgo observing runs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4235-4248
Number of pages14
JournalMonthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
MC acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation with grant number PHY-2010970. NC acknowledges support from the National Science Foundation with grant number PHY-1806990. MB acknowledges support from the Swedish Research Council (Reg. no. 2020-03330). SA is supported by the CNES Postdoctoral Fellowship at Laboratoire AstroParticule et Cosmologie. RE was supported by the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at the University of Chicago is supported through an endowment from the Kavli Foundation and its founder Fred Kavli. Research at Perimeter Institute is supported in part by the Government of Canada through the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and by the Province of Ontario through the Ministry of Colleges and Universities. PL is supported by National Science Foundation award PHY-1836734 and by a gift from the Dan Black Family Foundation to the Gravitational- Wave Physics & Astronomy Center. We thank our colleagues from the MBTA team for sharing this pipeline and for useful discussions.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Author(s).


  • gravitational waves
  • methods: statistical


Dive into the research topics of 'Predicting electromagnetic counterparts using low-latency gravitational-wave data products'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this