Cherenkov Telescope Array is well suited to follow up gravitational-wave transients

The first gravitational-wave (GW) observations will greatly benefit from the detection of coincident electromagnetic counterparts. Electromagnetic follow-ups will nevertheless be challenging for GWs with poorly reconstructed directions. GW source localization can be inefficient (i) if only two GW observatories are in operation; (ii) if the detectors’ sensitivities are highly non-uniform; (iii) for events near the detectors’ horizon distance. For these events, follow-up observations will need to cover 100–1000 deg−2 of the sky over a limited period of time, reducing the list of suitable telescopes. We demonstrate that the Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) will be capable of following up GW event candidates over the required large sky area with sufficient sensitivity to detect short gamma-ray bursts, which are thought to originate from compact binary mergers, out to the horizon distance of advanced LIGO/Virgo. CTA can therefore be invaluable starting with the first multimessenger detections, even with poorly reconstructed GW source directions. This scenario also provides a further scientific incentive for GW observatories to further decrease the delay of their event reconstruction.