Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

A search for an optical counterpart to the gravitational-wave event GW151226

Smartt, S. J.; Chambers, K. C.; Smith, K. W.; Huber, M. E.; Young, D. R.; Chen, T.-W.; Inserra, C.; Wright, D. E.; Coughlin, M.; Denneau, L.; Flewelling, H.; Heinze, A.; Jerkstrand, A.; Magnier, E. A.; Maguire, K.; Mueller, B.; Rest, A.; Sherstyuk, A.; Stalder, B.; Schultz, A. S. B.; Stubbs, C. W.; Tonry, J.; Waters, C.; Wainscoat, R. J.; Valle, M. Della; Dennefeld, M.; Dimitriadis, G.; Firth, R. E.; Fraser, M.; Frohmaier, C.; Gal-Yam, A.; Harmanen, J.; Kankare, E.; Kotak, R.; Kromer, M.; Mandel, I.; Sollerman, J.; Gibson, B.; Primak, N.; Willman, M.


S. J. Smartt

K. C. Chambers

K. W. Smith

M. E. Huber

D. R. Young

T.-W. Chen

C. Inserra

D. E. Wright

M. Coughlin

L. Denneau

H. Flewelling

A. Heinze

A. Jerkstrand

E. A. Magnier

K. Maguire

B. Mueller

A. Rest

A. Sherstyuk

B. Stalder

A. S. B. Schultz

C. W. Stubbs

J. Tonry

C. Waters

R. J. Wainscoat

M. Della Valle

M. Dennefeld

G. Dimitriadis

R. E. Firth

M. Fraser

C. Frohmaier

A. Gal-Yam

J. Harmanen

E. Kankare

R. Kotak

M. Kromer

I. Mandel

J. Sollerman

Profile Image

Professor Brad Gibson
Head of Dept, Physics & Maths; Director, E.A. Milne Centre for Astrophysics

N. Primak

M. Willman


� 2016. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.. We present a search for an electromagnetic counterpart of the gravitational-wave source GW151226. Using the Pan-STARRS1 telescope we mapped out 290 square degrees in the optical iP1filter, starting 11.5 hr after the LIGO information release and lasting for an additional 28 days. The first observations started 49.5 hr after the time of the GW151226 detection. We typically reached sensitivity limits of iP1= 20.3-20.8 and covered 26.5% of the LIGO probability skymap. We supplemented this with ATLAS survey data, reaching 31% of the probability region to shallower depths of m ≃ 19. We found 49 extragalactic transients (that are not obviously active galactic nuclei), including a faint transient in a galaxy at 7 Mpc (a luminous blue variable outburst) plus a rapidly decaying M-dwarf flare. Spectral classification of 20 other transient events showed them all to be supernovae. We found an unusual transient, PS15dpn, with an explosion date temporally coincident with GW151226, that evolved into a type Ibn supernova. The redshift of the transient is secure at z = 0.1747 0.0001 and we find it unlikely to be linked, since the luminosity distance has a negligible probability of being consistent with that of GW151226. In the 290 square degrees surveyed we therefore do not find a likely counterpart. However we show that our survey strategy would be sensitive to NS-NS mergers producing kilonovae at DL≲ 100 Mpc, which is promising for future LIGO/Virgo searches.


Smartt, S. J., Chambers, K. C., Smith, K. W., Huber, M. E., Young, D. R., Chen, T., …Willman, M. (2016). A search for an optical counterpart to the gravitational-wave event GW151226. Astrophysical journal. Letters, 827(2), L40.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 7, 2016
Online Publication Date Aug 19, 2016
Publication Date Aug 20, 2016
Deposit Date Jun 28, 2018
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Journal Astrophysical Journal Letters
Print ISSN 2041-8205
Electronic ISSN 2041-8213
Publisher American Astronomical Society
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 827
Issue 2
Article Number L40
Pages L40
Keywords Gravitational waves; Supernovae: general; Surveys
Public URL
Publisher URL
Related Public URLs


Article (3.6 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2016 The American Astronomical Society.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations