FAST Team at University of Texas Rio Grande
Fast localization of electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational wave events using SDSS archival images as references
The UTRGV Time Domain Astronomy group (TDAG), supported by the FAST program, is developing a complete software pipeline for the TOROS project. The TOROS (Transient Optical Robotic Observatory of the South) project will observe and characterize optical transients associated with the merger of neutron star (or neutron star-black hole) binary systems detected by ground based gravitational wave interferometers. The TOROS system is a fully robotic facility already installed at Cordon Macon in the Argentine section of the Atacama plateau in South America. A custom optical corrector and monolithic 10K×10K CCD camera, yielding a ~1.9 sq.deg. field of view sampled at 0.47"/pix, will be installed by early 2022 (an 18 month delay from the original plan due to the COVID-19 pandemic).
The software to be developed will be critical to integrate all instances of the scientific operation — from responding to gravitational-wave and transient alerts, to scheduling observations, processing the raw data and carrying out the initial analyses. To develop and test this pipeline, the UTRGV TDAG team will be using the Cristina Torres Memorial Astronomical Observatory (located at Resaca de la Palma State Park in south Texas), developing novel differential photometric analyses deconvoluting images obtained with SDSS existing surveys using several neural networks and deep learning techniques.