Gravitational wave (GW) events detectable by LIGO and Virgo have several possible progenitors, including black hole mergers, neutron star mergers, black hole–neutron star mergers, supernovae, and cosmic string cusps. A subset of GW events is expected to produce electromagnetic (EM) emission that, once detected, will provide complementary information about their astrophysical context. To that end, the LIGO–Virgo Collaboration (LVC) sends GW candidate alerts to the astronomical community so that searches for their EM counterparts can be pursued. The DESGW group, consisting of members of the Dark Energy Survey (DES), the LVC, and other members of the astronomical community, uses the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) to perform a search and discovery program for optical signatures of LVC GW events. DESGW aims to use a sample of GW events as standard sirens for cosmology. Due to the short decay timescale of the expected EM counterparts and the need to quickly eliminate survey areas with no counterpart candidates, it is critical to complete the initial analysis of each night's images as quickly as possible. We discuss our search area determination, imaging pipeline, and candidate selection processes. We review results from the DESGW program during the first two LIGO–Virgo observing campaigns and introduce other science applications that our pipeline enables.
- Gravitational waves
- Grid computing
- Software and its engineering software infrastructure
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Computer Science Applications
- Space and Planetary Science