The Era of Gravitational Wave Astronomy: GOTO and the challenge of transients

Wed 26 September 2018 @12:00 PM, level 7
Dr Kendall Ackley Monash University

Email:  kendall.ackley[at]



With a single confirmed joint observation of the gravitational waves (GW) emitted from a binary neutron star system with an electromagnetic (EM) counterpart, the era of multimessenger astronomy was born overnight. With only a few detectors online, the poor directional resolution of the GW antennae network leaves hundreds of square degrees to be searched for associated transients. The large number of false-positives which simultaneously litter the sky represent a major challenge to reliably identify and link potential EM counterparts to GW events. In this talk, I will discuss the Gravitational-Wave Optical Transient Observatory (GOTO) which is dedicated to the follow-up of GW event triggers; as well as the ways in which we automatically detect and classify potential astrophysical transients using unsupervised and supervised machine learning algorithms on image-subtracted data. I will also discuss exciting research avenues with routine joint GW-EM observations, such as GW-EM parameter estimation, which may provide further constraints on the Hubble constant independent of the cosmological distance-ladder.