Liverpool Telescope follow-up of candidate electromagnetic counterparts during the first run of Advanced LIGO
journal contributionposted on 12.10.2016, 11:22 by C. M. Copperwheat, I. A. Steele, A. S. Piascik, D. Bersier, M. F. Bode, C. A. Collins, M. J. Darnley, D. K. Galloway, A. Gomboc, S. Kobayashi, G. P. Lamb, A. J. Levan, P. A. Mazzali, C. G. Mundell, E. Pian, D. Pollacco, D. Steeghs, Nial R. Tanvir, K. Ulaczyk, K. Wiersema
The first direct detection of gravitational waves was made in late 2015 with the Advanced LIGO detectors. By prior arrangement, a worldwide collaboration of electromagnetic follow-up observers were notified of candidate gravitational wave events during the first science run, and many facilities were engaged in the search for counterparts. No counterparts were identified, which is in line with expectations given that the events were classified as black hole - black hole mergers. However these searches laid the foundation for similar follow-up campaigns in future gravitational wave detector science runs, in which the detection of neutron star merger events with observable electromagnetic counterparts is much more likely. Three alerts were issued to the electromagnetic collaboration over the course of the first science run, which lasted from September 2015 to January 2016. Two of these alerts were associated with the gravitational wave events since named GW150914 and GW151226. In this paper we provide an overview of the Liverpool Telescope contribution to the follow-up campaign over this period. Given the hundreds of square degree uncertainty in the sky position of any gravitational wave event, efficient searching for candidate counterparts required survey telescopes with large (~degrees) fields-of-view. The role of the Liverpool Telescope was to provide follow-up classification spectroscopy of any candidates. We followed candidates associated with all three alerts, observing 1, 9 and 17 candidates respectively. We classify the majority of the transients we observed as supernovae.