The double neutron star merger GW170817 was the fifth source of gravitational waves ever recorded and the first one to also be detected electromagnetically. This event was a milestone in the history of modern astronomy, and opened a new era of multi-messenger astronomy.
Double neutron star mergers are unlikely to be the only source of both gravitational and electromagnetic waves that we can detect with current and future instrumentation. Supernovae are another likely source.
Rapid electromagnetic (EM) follow-up of gravitational events is critical, as the EM signals of some events are short lived. With the longer lasting signals, observations in the first few hours of the event are also important, as the EM signal in these first few hours contains information on the nature of the progenitor that cannot be obtained in other ways.
The ANU 2.3m and SkyMapper telescopes located at Siding Spring Observatory have taken part in EM follow-up of gravitational waves sources. While SkyMapper is fully robotic and can respond to alerts in minutes, the 2.3m telescope is operated manually. The response time of the 2.3m is usually a day if at all. To reduce the response time of the 2.3m to alerts to a few minutes, we are automating the 2.3m telescope.
Prof. Susan Scott
Office Phone: +61 2 612 50347
A/Prof Christian Wolf
Office Phone: +61 2 6125 6373