Toward Rapid Transient Identification and Characterization of Kilonovae

Michael Coughlin, Tim Dietrich, Kyohei Kawaguchi, Stephen Smartt, Christopher Stubbs, Maximiliano Ujevic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


With the increasing sensitivity of advanced gravitational-wave (GW) detectors, the first joint detection of an electromagnetic and GW signal from a compact binary merger will hopefully happen within this decade. However, current GW likelihood sky areas span ∼ 100-1000 deg2, and thus it is a challenging task to identify which, if any, transient corresponds to the GW event. In this study, we make a comparison between recent kilonova/macronova light-curve models for the purpose of assessing potential light-curve templates for counterpart identification. We show that recent analytical and parameterized models for these counterparts result in qualitative agreement with more complicated radiative transfer simulations. Our analysis suggests that with improved light-curve models with smaller uncertainties it will become possible to extract information about ejecta properties and binary parameters directly from the light-curve measurement. Even tighter constraints are obtained in cases for which GW and kilonova parameter estimation results are combined. It will therefore be important to make comparisons and potentially combine parameter estimation with the kilonova and GW results. However, to be prepared for upcoming detections, more realistic kilonova models are needed. These will require numerical relativity with more detailed microphysics, better radiative transfer simulations, and a better understanding of the underlying nuclear physics.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12
JournalAstrophysical Journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


  • gravitational waves
  • stars: neutron
  • surveys


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