Publication list

1. "POLARIZATION SPECTRAL SYNTHESIS FOR TYPE Ia SUPERNOVA EXPLOSION MODELS" M. Bulla, S. A. Sim & M. Kromer, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 450, Issue 1, p.967-981 (Jun 2015)


We present a Monte Carlo radiative transfer technique for calculating synthetic spectropolarimetry for multidimensional supernova explosion models. The approach utilizes 'virtual-packets' that are generated during the propagation of the Monte Carlo quanta and used to compute synthetic observables for specific observer orientations. Compared to extracting synthetic observables by direct binning of emergent Monte Carlo quanta, this virtual-packet approach leads to a substantial reduction in the Monte Carlo noise. This is not only vital for calculating synthetic spectropolarimetry (since the degree of polarization is typically very small) but also useful for calculations of light curves and spectra. We first validate our approach via application of an idealized test code to simple geometries. We then describe its implementation in the Monte Carlo radiative transfer code ARTIS and present test calculations for simple models for Type Ia supernovae. Specifically, we use the well-known one-dimensional W7 model to verify that our scheme can accurately recover zero polarization from a spherical model, and to demonstrate the reduction in Monte Carlo noise compared to a simple packet-binning approach. To investigate the impact of aspherical ejecta on the polarization spectra, we then use ARTIS to calculate synthetic observables for prolate and oblate ellipsoidal models with Type Ia supernova compositions.




14. "TESTING THE MAGNETAR SCENARIO FOR SUPERLUMINOUS SUPERNOVAE WITH CIRCULAR POLARIMETRY" A. Cikota, G. Leloudas, M. Bulla, C. Inserra, T.-W. Chen, J. Spyromilio, F. Patat et al., Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 479, Issue 4, p.4984-4990 (Oct 2018)


Superluminous supernovae (SLSNe) are at least ∼5 times more luminous than common supernovae (SNe). Especially hydrogen-poor SLSN-I are difficult to explain with conventional powering mechanisms. One possible scenario that might explain such luminosities is that SLSNe-I are powered by an internal engine, such as a magnetar or an accreting black hole. Strong magnetic fields or collimated jets can circularly polarize light. In this work, we measured circular polarization of two SLSNe-I with the FOcal Reducer and low dispersion Spectrograph (FORS2) mounted at the ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT). PS17bek, a fast evolving SLSN-I, was observed around peak, while OGLE16dmu, a slowly evolving SLSN-I, was observed 100 days after maximum. Neither SLSN shows evidence of circularly polarized light, however, these non-detections do not rule out the magnetar scenario as the powering engine for SLSNe-I. We calculate the strength of the magnetic field and the expected circular polarization as a function of distance from the magnetar, which decreases very fast. Additionally, we observed no significant linear polarization for PS17bek at four epochs, suggesting that the photosphere near peak is close to spherical symmetry.




13. "SHEDDING LIGHT ON THE TYPE Ia SUPERNOVA EXTINCTION PUZZLE: DUST LOCATION FOUND" M. Bulla, A. Goobar and S. Dhawan, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 479, Issue 3, p.3663-3674 (Sep 2018)


The colour evolution of reddened Type Ia supernovae can place strong constraints on the location of dust and help address the question of whether the observed extinction stems from the interstellar medium or from circumstellar material surrounding the progenitor. Here we analyse BV photometry of 48 reddened Type Ia supernovae from the literature and estimate the dust location from their B - V colour evolution. We find a time-variable colour excess E(B - V) for 15 supernovae in our sample and constrain dust to distances between 0.013 and 45 pc (4 × 10^16 - 10^20 cm). For the remaining supernovae, we obtain a constant E(B - V) evolution and place lower limits on the dust distance from the explosion. In all the 48 supernovae, the inferred dust location is compatible with an interstellar origin for the extinction. This is corroborated by the observation that supernovae with relatively nearby dust (≲ 1 pc) are located close to the center of their host galaxy, in high-density dusty regions where interactions between the supernova radiation and interstellar clouds close by are likely to occur. For supernovae showing time-variable E(B - V), we identify a potential preference for low RV values, unusually strong sodium absorption and blue-shifted and time-variable absorption features. Within the interstellar framework, this brings evidence to a proposed scenario where cloud-cloud collisions induced by the supernova radiation pressure can shift the grain size distribution to smaller values and enhance the abundance of sodium in the gaseous phase.




2. "PESSTO: SURVEY DESCRIPTION AND PRODUCTS FROM THE FIRST DATA RELEASE BY THE PUBLIC ESO SPECTROSCOPIC SURVEY OF TRANSIENT OBJECTS" S. J. Smartt, et al. (101 coauthors, including M. Bulla), Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 579, id.A40 (Jul 2015)


Context. The Public European Southern Observatory Spectroscopic Survey of Transient Objects (PESSTO) began as a public spectroscopic survey in April 2012. PESSTO classifies transients from publicly available sources and wide-field surveys, and selects science targets for detailed spectroscopic and photometric follow-up. PESSTO runs for nine months of the year, January - April and August - December inclusive, and typically has allocations of 10 nights per month. Aims: We describe the data reduction strategy and data products that are publicly available through the ESO archive as the Spectroscopic Survey data release 1 (SSDR1). Methods: PESSTO uses the New Technology Telescope with the instruments EFOSC2 and SOFI to provide optical and NIR spectroscopy and imaging. We target supernovae and optical transients brighter than 20.5m for classification. Science targets are selected for follow-up based on the PESSTO science goal of extending knowledge of the extremes of the supernova population. We use standard EFOSC2 set-ups providing spectra with resolutions of 13-18 Å between 3345-9995 Å. A subset of the brighter science targets are selected for SOFI spectroscopy with the blue and red grisms (0.935-2.53 μm and resolutions 23-33 Å) and imaging with broadband JHKs filters. Results: This first data release (SSDR1) contains flux calibrated spectra from the first year (April 2012-2013). A total of 221 confirmed supernovae were classified, and we released calibrated optical spectra and classifications publicly within 24 h of the data being taken (via WISeREP). The data in SSDR1 replace those released spectra. They have more reliable and quantifiable flux calibrations, correction for telluric absorption, and are made available in standard ESO Phase 3 formats. We estimate the absolute accuracy of the flux calibrations for EFOSC2 across the whole survey in SSDR1 to be typically ~15%, although a number of spectra will have less reliable absolute flux calibration because of weather and slit losses. Acquisition images for each spectrum are available which, in principle, can allow the user to refine the absolute flux calibration. The standard NIR reduction process does not produce high accuracy absolute spectrophotometry but synthetic photometry with accompanying JHKs imaging can improve this. Whenever possible, reduced SOFI images are provided to allow this. Conclusions: Future data releases will focus on improving the automated flux calibration of the data products. The rapid turnaround between discovery and classification and access to reliable pipeline processed data products has allowed early science papers in the first few months of the survey.




3. "TYPE Ia SUPERNOVAE FROM VIOLENT MERGERS OF CARBON-OXYGEN WHITE DWARFS: POLARIZATION SIGNATURES" M. Bulla, S. A. Sim, R. Pakmor, M. Kromer, S. Taubenberger, F. K. Röpke, W. Hillebrandt & I. R. Seitenzahl, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 455, Issue 1, p.1060-1070 (Jan 2016)


The violent merger of two carbon-oxygen white dwarfs has been proposed as a viable progenitor for some Type Ia supernovae. However, it has been argued that the strong ejecta asymmetries produced by this model might be inconsistent with the low degree of polarization typically observed in Type Ia supernova explosions. Here, we test this claim by carrying out a spectropolarimetric analysis for the model proposed by Pakmor et al. for an explosion triggered during the merger of a 1.1 and 0.9 M⊙ carbon-oxygen white dwarf binary system. Owing to the asymmetries of the ejecta, the polarization signal varies significantly with viewing angle. We find that polarization levels for observers in the equatorial plane are modest (≲1 per cent) and show clear evidence for a dominant axis, as a consequence of the ejecta symmetry about the orbital plane. In contrast, orientations out of the plane are associated with higher degrees of polarization and departures from a dominant axis. While the particular model studied here gives a good match to highly polarized events such as SN 2004dt, it has difficulties in reproducing the low polarization levels commonly observed in normal Type Ia supernovae. Specifically, we find that significant asymmetries in the element distribution result in a wealth of strong polarization features that are not observed in the majority of currently available spectropolarimetric data of Type Ia supernovae. Future studies will map out the parameter space of the merger scenario to investigate if alternative models can provide better agreement with observations.




4. "PREDICTING POLARIZATION SIGNATURES FOR DOUBLE-DETONATIONAND DELAYED-DETONATION MODELS OF TYPE IA SUPERNOVAE" M. Bulla, S. A. Sim, M. Kromer, I. R. Seitenzahl, M. Fink, F. Ciaraldi-Schoolmann, F. K. Röpke, W. Hillebrandt, R. Pakmor, A. J. Ruiter & S. Taubenberger, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 462, Issue 1, p.1039-1056 (Oct 2016)


Calculations of synthetic spectropolarimetry are one means to test multidimensional explosion models for Type Ia supernovae. In a recent paper, we demonstrated that the violent merger of a 1.1 and 0.9 M⊙white dwarf binary system is too asymmetric to explain the low polarization levels commonly observed in normal Type Ia supernovae. Here, we present polarization simulations for two alternative scenarios: the sub-Chandrasekhar mass double-detonation and the Chandrasekhar mass delayed-detonation model. Specifically, we study a 2D double-detonation model and a 3D delayed-detonation model, and calculate polarization spectra for multiple observer orientations in both cases. We find modest polarization levels (<1 per cent) for both explosion models. Polarization in the continuum peaks at ∼ 0.1–0.3 per cent and decreases after maximum light, in excellent agreement with spectropolarimetric data of normal Type Ia supernovae. Higher degrees of polarization are found across individual spectral lines. In particular, the synthetic Si ii λ6355 profiles are polarized at levels that match remarkably well the values observed in normal Type Ia supernovae, while the low degrees of polarization predicted across the O i λ7774 region are consistent with the non-detection of this feature in current data. We conclude that our models can reproduce many of the characteristics of both flux and polarization spectra for well-studied Type Ia supernovae, such as SN 2001el and SN 2012fr. However, the two models considered here cannot account for the unusually high level of polarization observed in extreme cases such as SN 2004dt.




5. "SPECTROPOLARIMETRY OF SUPERLUMINOUS SUPERNOVAE:INSIGHT INTO THEIR GEOMETRY" C. Inserra, M. Bulla, S. A. Sim & S. J. Smartt, The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 831, Issue 1, article id. 79 (Nov 2016)


We present the first spectropolarimetric observations of a hydrogen-free superluminous supernova (SLSN) at z = 0.1136, namely SN 2015bn. The transient shows significant polarization at both of the observed epochs: one 24 days before maximum light in the rest-frame, and the other at 27 days after peak luminosity. Analysis of the Q – U plane suggests the presence of a dominant axis and no physical departure from the main axis at either epoch. The polarization spectrum along the dominant axis is characterized by a strong wavelength dependence and an increase in the signal from the first to the second epoch. We use a Monte Carlo code to demonstrate that these properties are consistent with a simple toy model that adopts an axisymmetric ellipsoidal configuration for the ejecta. We find that the wavelength dependence of the polarization is possibly due to a strong wavelength dependence in the line opacity, while the higher level of polarization at the second epoch is a consequence of the increase in the asphericity of the inner layers of the ejecta or the fact that the photosphere recedes into less spherical layers. The geometry of the SLSN is similar to that of stripped-envelope core-collapse SNe connected to GRB, while the overall evolution of the ejecta shape could be consistent with a central engine.




6. "TESTING FOR REDSHIFT EVOLUTION OF TYPE Ia SUPERNOVAEUSING THE STRONGLY LENSED PS1-10afx AT z = 1.4" T. Petrushevska, R. Amanullah, M. Bulla, M. Kromer, R. Ferretti, A. Goobar & S. Papadogiannakis, Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 603, id.A136 (Jul 2017)


The light from distant supernovae (SNe) can be magnified through gravitational lensing when a foreground galaxy is located along the line of sight. This line-up allows for detailed studies of SNe at high redshift that otherwise would not be possible. Spectroscopic observations of lensed high-redshift Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) are of particular interest since they can be used to test for evolution of their intrinsic properties. The use of SNe Ia for probing the cosmic expansion history has proven to be an extremely powerful method for measuring cosmological parameters. However, if systematic redshift-dependent properties are found, their usefulness for future surveys could be challenged. We investigate whether the spectroscopic properties of the strongly lensed and very distant SN Ia PS1-10afx at z=1.4 deviates from the well-studied populations of normal SNe Ia at nearby or intermediate distance. We created median spectra from nearby and intermediate-redshift spectroscopically normal SNe Ia from the literature at -5 and +1 days from light-curve maximum. We then compared these median spectra to those of PS1-10afx. We do not find signs of spectral evolution in PS1-10afx. The observed deviation between PS1-10afx and the median templates are within what is found for SNe at low- and intermediate-redshift. There is a noticeable broad feature centred at lambda ~ 3500 A, which is present only to a lesser extent in individual low and intermediate redshift SN Ia spectra. From a comparison with a recently developed explosion model, we find this feature to be dominated by iron peak elements, in particular, singly ionized cobalt and chromium.




7. "PROBING GAS AND DUST IN THE TIDAL TAIL OF NGC 5221 WITH THE TYPE Ia SUPERNOVA iPTF16abc" R. Ferretti, R. Amanullah, A. Goobar, T. Petrushevska, S. Borthakur, M. Bulla, O. Fox, E. Freeland, C. Fremling, L. Hangard & M. Hayes, Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 606, id.A111 (Oct 2017)


Context. Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) can be used to address numerous questions in astrophysics and cosmology. Due to their well known spectral and photometric properties, SNe Ia are well suited to study gas and dust along the lines-of-sight to the explosions. For example, narrow Na I D and Ca II H&K absorption lines can be studied easily, because of the well-defined spectral continuum of SNe Ia around these features. Aims. We study the gas and dust along the line-of-sight to iPTF16abc, which occurred in an unusual location, in a tidal arm, 80 kpc from centre of the galaxy NGC 5221. Methods. Using a time-series of high-resolution spectra, we examine narrow Na I D and Ca II H&K absorption features for variations in time, which would be indicative for circumstellar (CS) matter. Furthermore, we take advantage of the well known photometric properties of SNe Ia to determine reddening due to dust along the line-of-sight. Results. From the lack of variations in Na I D and Ca II H&K, we determine that none of the detected absorption features originate from the CS medium of iPTF16abc. While the Na I D and Ca II H&K absorption is found to be optically thick, a negligible amount of reddening points to a small column of interstellar dust. Conclusions. We find that the gas along the line-of-sight to iPTF16abc is typical of what might be found in the interstellar medium (ISM) within a galaxy. It suggests that we are observing gas that has been tidally stripped during an interaction of NGC 5221 with one of its neighbouring galaxies in the past ∼109 years. In the future, the gas clouds could become the locations of star formation. On a longer time scale, the clouds might diffuse, enriching the circum-galactic medium (CGM) with metals. The gas profile along the line-of-sight should be useful for future studies of the dynamics of the galaxy group containing NGC 5221.GW170817 was produced by the merger of two neutron stars in NGC 4993 followed by a short gamma-ray burst (GRB 170817A) and a kilonova/macronova powered by the radioactive decay of r-process nuclei synthesized in the ejecta.




8. "MULTI-MESSENGER OBSERVATIONS OF A BINARY NEUTRON STAR MERGER" B. P. Abbott, et al. (3673 coauthors, including M. Bulla), The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Volume 848, Issue 2, article id. L12 (Oct 2017)


On 2017 August 17 a binary neutron star coalescence candidate (later designated GW170817) with merger time 12:41:04 UTC was observed through gravitational waves by the Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo detectors. The Fermi Gamma-ray Burst Monitor independently detected a gamma-ray burst (GRB 170817A) with a time delay of ~1.7 s with respect to the merger time. From the gravitational-wave signal, the source was initially localized to a sky region of 31 deg2 at a luminosity distance of 40_{-8}^{+8} Mpc and with component masses consistent with neutron stars. The component masses were later measured to be in the range 0.86 to 2.26 M⊙ . An extensive observing campaign was launched across the electromagnetic spectrum leading to the discovery of a bright optical transient (SSS17a, now with the IAU identification of AT 2017gfo) in NGC 4993 (at ~40 Mpc) less than 11 hours after the merger by the One-Meter, Two Hemisphere (1M2H) team using the 1 m Swope Telescope. The optical transient was independently detected by multiple teams within an hour. Subsequent observations targeted the object and its environment. Early ultraviolet observations revealed a blue transient that faded within 48 hours. Optical and infrared observations showed a redward evolution over ~10 days. Following early non-detections, X-ray and radio emission were discovered at the transient's position ~9 and ~16 days, respectively, after the merger. Both the X-ray and radio emission likely arise from a physical process that is distinct from the one that generates the UV/optical/near-infrared emission. No ultra-high-energy gamma-rays and no neutrino candidates consistent with the source were found in follow-up searches. These observations support the hypothesis that GW170817 was produced by the merger of two neutron stars in NGC 4993 followed by a short gamma-ray burst (GRB 170817A) and a kilonova/macronova powered by the radioactive decay of r-process nuclei synthesized in the ejecta.




9. "A KILONOVA AS THE ELECTROMAGNETIC COUNTERPART TO A GRAVITATIONAL-WAVE SOURCES" J. Smartt, et al. (121 coauthors, including M. Bulla), Nature, Volume 551, Issue 7678, pp. 75-79 (Nov 2017)


Gravitational waves were discovered with the detection of binary black-hole mergers and they should also be detectable from lower-mass neutron-star mergers. These are predicted to eject material rich in heavy radioactive isotopes that can power an electromagnetic signal. This signal is luminous at optical and infrared wavelengths and is called a kilonova. The gravitational-wave source GW170817 arose from a binary neutron-star merger in the nearby Universe with a relatively well confined sky position and distance estimate. Here we report observations and physical modelling of a rapidly fading electromagnetic transient in the galaxy NGC 4993, which is spatially coincident with GW170817 and with a weak, short γ-ray burst. The transient has physical parameters that broadly match the theoretical predictions of blue kilonovae from neutron-star mergers. The emitted electromagnetic radiation can be explained with an ejected mass of 0.04 ± 0.01 solar masses, with an opacity of less than 0.5 square centimetres per gram, at a velocity of 0.2 ± 0.1 times light speed. The power source is constrained to have a power-law slope of ‑1.2 ± 0.3, consistent with radioactive powering from r-process nuclides. (The r-process is a series of neutron capture reactions that synthesise many of the elements heavier than iron.) We identify line features in the spectra that are consistent with light r-process elements (atomic masses of 90–140). As it fades, the transient rapidly becomes red, and a higher-opacity, lanthanide-rich ejecta component may contribute to the emission. This indicates that neutron-star mergers produce gravitational waves and radioactively powered kilonovae, and are a nucleosynthetic source of the r-process elements.




10. "NO EVIDENCE OF CIRCUMSTELLAR GAS SURROUNDING TYPE Ia SUPERNOVA SN 2017cbv" R. Ferretti, R. Amanullah, M. Bulla, A. Goobar, J. Johansson & P. Lundqvist, The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Volume 851, Issue 2, article id. L43 (Dec 2017)


Nearby type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia), such as SN 2017cbv, are useful events to address the question of what the elusive progenitor systems of the explosions are. Hosseinzadeh et al. suggested that the early blue excess of the light curve of SN 2017cbv could be due to the supernova ejecta interacting with a non-degenerate companion star. Some SN Ia progenitor models suggest the existence of circumstellar (CS) environments in which strong outflows create low-density cavities of different radii. Matter deposited at the edges of the cavities should be at distances at which photoionization due to early ultraviolet (UV) radiation of SNe Ia causes detectable changes to the observable Na I D and Ca II H&K absorption lines. To study possible narrow absorption lines from such material, we obtained a time series of high-resolution spectra of SN 2017cbv at phases between ‑14.8 and +83 days with respect to B-band maximum, covering the time at which photoionization is predicted to occur. Both narrow Na I D and Ca II H&K are detected in all spectra, with no measurable changes between the epochs. We use photoionization models to rule out the presence of Na I and Ca II gas clouds along the line of sight of SN 2017cbv between ∼8 × 10^16 – 2 × 10^19 cm and ∼10^15 – 10^17 cm, respectively. Assuming typical abundances, the mass of a homogeneous spherical CS gas shell with radius R must be limited to M{HI}{CSM} < 3× 10^-4× (R/[10^17 cm]}^2 Msun . The bounds point to progenitor models that deposit little gas in their CS environment.




11. "ESTIMATING DUST DISTANCES TO TYPE Ia SUPERNOVAE FROM COLOUR EXCESS TIME-EVOLUTION" M. Bulla, A. Goobar, R. Amanullah, U. Feindt & R. Ferretti, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 473, Issue 2, p.1918-1929 (Jan 2018)


We present a new technique to infer dust locations towards reddened Type Ia supernovae and to help discriminate between an interstellar and a circumstellar origin for the observed extinction. Using Monte Carlo simulations, we show that the time-evolution of the light-curve shape and especially of the colour excess E(B-V) places strong constraints on the distance between dust and the supernova. We apply our approach to two highly-reddened Type Ia supernovae for which dust distance estimates are available in the literature: SN 2006X and SN 2014J. For the former, we obtain a time-variable E(B-V) and from this derive a distance of 27.5^{+9.0}_{-4.9} or 22.1^{+6.0}_{-3.8} pc depending on whether dust properties typical of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) or the Milky Way (MW) are used. For the latter, instead, we obtain a constant E(B-V) consistent with dust at distances larger than ~ 50 and 38 pc for LMC- and MW-type dust, respectively. Values thus extracted are in excellent agreement with previous estimates for the two supernovae. Our findings suggest that dust responsible for the extinction towards these supernovae is likely to be located within interstellar clouds. We also discuss how other properties of reddened Type Ia supernovae - such as their peculiar extinction and polarization behaviour and the detection of variable, blue-shifted sodium features in some of these events - might be compatible with dust and gas at interstellar-scale distances.




12. "iPTF SURVEY FOR COOL TRANSIENTS" S. M. Adams, N. Blagorodnova, M. M. Kasliwal, R. Amanullah, T. Barlow, B. Bue, M. Bulla, et al., Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Volume 130, Issue 985, pp. 034202 (Mar 2018)


We performed a wide-area (2000 deg2) g and I band experiment as part of a two month extension to the Intermediate Palomar Transient Factory. We discovered 36 extragalactic transients including iPTF17lf, a highly reddened local SN Ia, iPTF17bkj, a new member of the rare class of transitional Ibn/IIn supernovae, and iPTF17be, a candidate luminous blue variable outburst. We do not detect any luminous red novae and place an upper limit on their rate. We show that adding a slow-cadence I band component to upcoming surveys such as the Zwicky Transient Facility will improve the photometric selection of cool and dusty transients.




16. "A NEARBY SUPERLUMINOUS SUPERNOVA WITH A LONG PRE-MAXIMUM 'PLATEAU' AND STRONG CII FEATURES" J. P. Anderson et al. (65 co-authors, including M. Bulla), Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 620, id.A67, 16 pp. (Nov 2018)


Super-luminous supernovae (SLSNe) are rare events defined as being significantly more luminous than normal terminal stellar explosions. The source of the extra powering needed to achieve such luminosities is still unclear. Discoveries in the local Universe (i.e. $z<0.1$) are scarce, but afford dense multi-wavelength observations. Additional low-redshift objects are therefore extremely valuable. We present early-time observations of the type I SLSN ASASSN-18km/SN~2018bsz. These data are used to characterise the event and compare to literature SLSNe and spectral models. Host galaxy properties are also analysed. Optical and near-IR photometry and spectroscopy were analysed. Early-time ATLAS photometry was used to constrain the rising light curve. We identified a number of spectral features in optical-wavelength spectra and tracked their time evolution. Finally, we used archival host galaxy photometry together with HII region spectra to constrain the host environment. ASASSN-18km/SN~2018bsz is found to be a type I SLSN in a galaxy at a redshift of 0.0267 (111 Mpc), making it the lowest-redshift event discovered to date. Strong CII lines are identified in the spectra. Spectral models produced by exploding a Wolf-Rayet progenitor and injecting a magnetar power source are shown to be qualitatively similar to ASASSN-18km/SN~2018bsz, contrary to most SLSNe-I that display weak/non-existent CII lines. ASASSN-18km/SN~2018bsz displays a long, slowly rising, red 'plateau' of $>$26 days, before a steeper, faster rise to maximum. The host has an absolute magnitude of --19.8 mag ($r$), a mass of M$_{*}$ = 1.5$^{+0.08}_{-0.33}$ $\times$10$^{9}$ M$_{\odot}$ , and a star formation rate of = 0.50$^{+2.22}_{-0.19}$ M$_{\odot}$ yr$^{-1}$. A nearby HII region has an oxygen abundance (O3N2) of 8.31$\pm$0.01 dex.




15. "iPTF16abc AND THE POPULATION OF TYPE Ia SUPERNOVAE: COMPARING THE PHOTOSPHERIC, TRANSITIONAL, AND NEBULAR PHASE" S. Dhawan, M. Bulla, A. Goobar et al., Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 480, Issue 2, p.1445-1456 (Oct 2018)


Key information about the progenitor system and the explosion mechanism of Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) can be obtained from early observations, within a few days from explosion. iPTF16abc was discovered as a young SN Ia with excellent early time data. Here, we present photometry and spectroscopy of the SN in the nebular phase. A comparison of the early time data with a sample of SNe Ia shows distinct features, differing from normal SNe Ia at early phases but similar to normal SNe Ia at a few weeks after maximum light (i.e. the transitional phase) and well into the nebular phase. The transparency time-scales (t0) for this sample of SNe Ia range between ˜25 and 41 d indicating a diversity in the ejecta masses. t0 also weakly correlates with the peak bolometric luminosity, consistent with the interpretation that SNe with higher ejecta masses would produce more ^{56}Ni . Comparing the t0 and the maximum luminosity, Lmax distribution of a sample of SNe Ia to predictions from a wide range of explosion models we find an indication that the sub-Chandrasekhar mass models span the range of observed values. However, the bright end of the distribution can be better explained by Chandrasekhar mass delayed detonation models, hinting at multiple progenitor channels to explain the observed bolometric properties of SNe Ia. iPTF16abc appears to be consistent with the predictions from the Mch models.




17. "THE ORIGIN OF POLARIZATION IN KILONOVAE AND THE CASE OF THE GRAVITATIONAL-WAVE COUNTERPART AT 2017gfo" M. Bulla, S. Covino, K. Kyoutoku, M. Tanaka et al., Nature Astronomy, 3, 99 (Jan 2019).


The Gravitational Wave (GW) event GW 170817 was generated by the coalescence of two neutron stars (NS) and produced an electromagnetic transient, labelled AT 2017gfo, that was target of a massive observational campaign. Polarimetry, a powerful diagnostic tool for probing the geometry and emission processes of unresolved sources, was obtained for this event. The observed linear polarization was consistent with being mostly induced by intervening dust, suggesting that the intrinsic emission was weakly polarized ($P < 0.4-0.5$ %). In this paper, we present and discuss a detailed analysis of the linear polarization expected from a merging NS binary system by means of 3D Monte Carlo radiative transfer simulations assuming a range of possible configurations, wavelengths, epochs and viewing angles. We find that polarization originates from the non-homogeneous opacity distribution within the ejecta and can reach levels of $P\sim1$ % at early times (1$-$2 days after the merger) and in the optical R band. Smaller polarization signals are expected at later epochs and/or different wavelengths. From the viewing-angle dependence of the polarimetric signal, we constrain the observer orientation of AT 2017gfo within $\sim$65$^\circ$ from the polar direction. The detection of non-zero polarization in future events will unambiguously reveal the presence of a lanthanide-free ejecta component and unveil its spatial and angular distribution.




18. "THE ZWICKY TRANSIENT FACILITY: SYSTEM OVERVIEW, PERFORMANCE, AND FIRST RESULTS" E. Bellm, et al. (115 coauthors, including M. Bulla), Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Volume 131, Issue 995, pp. 018002 (Jan 2019)


The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) is a new optical time-domain survey that uses the Palomar 48 inch Schmidt telescope. A custom-built wide-field camera provides a 47 deg2field of view and 8 s readout time, yielding more than an order of magnitude improvement in survey speed relative to its predecessor survey, the Palomar Transient Factory. We describe the design and implementation of the camera and observing system. The ZTF data system at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center provides near-real-time reduction to identify moving and varying objects. We outline the analysis pipelines, data products, and associated archive. Finally, we present on-sky performance analysis and first scientific results from commissioning and the early survey. ZTF’s public alert stream will serve as a useful precursor for that of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.




27. "LINEAR SPECTROPOLARIMETRY OF 35 TYPE Ia SUPERNOVAE WITH VLT/FORS: AN ANALYSIS OF THE Si II LINE POLARIZATION" A. Cikota et al. (11 coauthors, including M. Bulla), Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 490, Issue 1, p.578-599 (Nov 2019)


Spectropolarimetry enables us to measure the geometry and chemical structure of the ejecta in supernova explosions, which is fundamental for the understanding of their explosion mechanism(s) and progenitor systems. We collected archival data of 35 Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia), observed with Focal Reducer and Low-Dispersion Spectrograph (FORS) on the Very Large Telescope at 127 epochs in total. We examined the polarization of the Si II λ6355 Å line (p_{Si II}) as a function of time, which is seen to peak at a range of various polarization degrees and epochs relative to maximum brightness. We reproduced the ∆ m_{15}-p_{Si II} relationship identified in a previous study, and show that subluminous and transitional objects display polarization values below the ∆ m_{15}-p_{Si II} relationship for normal SNe Ia. We found a statistically significant linear relationship between the polarization of the Si II λ6355 Å line before maximum brightness and the Si II line velocity and suggest that this, along with the ∆ m_{15}-p_{Si II} relationship, may be explained in the context of a delayed-detonation model. In contrast, we compared our observations to numerical predictions in the ∆ m_{15}-v_{Si II} plane and found a dichotomy in the polarization properties between Chandrasekhar and sub-Chandrasekhar mass explosions, which supports the possibility of two distinct explosion mechanisms. A subsample of SNe displays evolution of loops in the q-u plane that suggests a more complex Si structure with depth. This insight, which could not be gleaned from total flux spectra, presents a new constraint on explosion models. Finally, we compared our statistical sample of the Si II polarization to quantitative predictions of the polarization levels for the double-detonation, delayed-detonation, and violent-merger models.




19. "R-BAND LIGHT-CURVE PROPERTIES OF TYPE Ia SUPERNOVAE FROM THE (INTERMEDIATE) PALOMAR TRANSIENT FACTORY" S. Papadogiannakis, A. Goobar, R. Amanullah, M. Bulla et al., Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 483, Issue 4, p.5045-5076 (Mar 2019)


We present the best 265 sampled R-band light curves of spectroscopically identified Type Ia supernovae (SNe) from the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF; 2009-2012) survey and the intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF; 2013-2017). A model-independent light-curve template is built from our data-set with the purpose to investigate average properties and diversity in our sample. We searched for multiple populations in the light-curve properties using machine learning tools. We also utilized the long history of our light curves, up to 4000 days, to exclude any significant pre- or post- supernova flares. From the shapes of light curves we found the average rise time in the R band to be 16.8^{+0.5}_{-0.6} days. Although PTF/iPTF were single-band surveys, by modelling the residuals of the SNe in the Hubble-Lemaître diagram, we estimate the average colour excess of our sample to be ≈ 0.05(2) mag and thus the mean corrected peak brightness to be MR = -19.02 ± 0.02 +5 log (H_0 [ km s^{-1} Mpc^{-1}]/70) mag with only weak dependennce on light-curve shape. The intrinsic scatter is found to be σR = 0.186 ± 0.033 mag for the redshift range 0.05 < z < 0.1, without colour corrections of individual SNe. Our analysis shows that Malmquist bias becomes very significant at z = 0.13. A similar limitation is expected for the ongoing Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) survey using the same telescope, but new camera expressly designed for ZTF.




20. "THE ZWICKY TRANSIENT FACILITY: SCIENCE OBJECTIVES" M. J. Graham et al. (119 coauthors, including M. Bulla), Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Volume 131, Issue 1001, pp. 078001 (Jul 2019)


The Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), a public─private enterprise, is a new time-domain survey employing a dedicated camera on the Palomar 48-inch Schmidt telescope with a 47 deg2 field of view and an 8 second readout time. It is well positioned in the development of time-domain astronomy, offering operations at 10% of the scale and style of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) with a single 1-m class survey telescope. The public surveys will cover the observable northern sky every three nights in g and r filters and the visible Galactic plane every night in g and r. Alerts generated by these surveys are sent in real time to brokers. A consortium of universities that provided funding (“partnership”) are undertaking several boutique surveys. The combination of these surveys producing one million alerts per night allows for exploration of transient and variable astrophysical phenomena brighter than r ∼ 20.5 on timescales of minutes to years. We describe the primary science objectives driving ZTF, including the physics of supernovae and relativistic explosions, multi-messenger astrophysics, supernova cosmology, active galactic nuclei, and tidal disruption events, stellar variability, and solar system objects.




23. "THE ASPHERICAL EXPLOSION OF THE TYPE IIP SN 2017gmr" T. Nagao et al. (9 coauthors, including M. Bulla), Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters, Volume 489, Issue 1, p.L69-L74 (Oct 2019)


Type IIP supernovae (SNe IIP), which represent the most common class of core-collapse (CC) SNe, show a rapid increase in continuum polarization just after entering the tail phase. This feature can be explained by a highly asymmetric helium core, which is exposed when the hydrogen envelope becomes transparent. Here we report the case of a SN IIP (SN~2017gmr) that shows an unusually early rise of the polarization, ≳30 days before the start of the tail phase. This implies that SN~2017gmr is an SN IIP that has very extended asphericity. The asymmetries are not confined to the helium core, but reach out to a significant part of the outer hydrogen envelope, hence clearly indicating a marked intrinsic diversity in the aspherical structure of CC explosions. These observations provide new constraints on the explosion mechanism, where viable models must be able to produce such extended deviations from spherical symmetry, and account for the observed geometrical diversity.




21. "GROWTH ON S190510g: DECam OBSERVATION PLANNING AND FOLLOW-UP OF A DISTANT BINARY NEUTRON STAR MERGER CANDIDATE" I. Andreoni et al. (25 coauthors, including M. Bulla), The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Volume 881, Issue 1, article id. L16, 11 pp. (Aug 2019)


The first two months of the third Advanced LIGO and Virgo observing run (2019 April-May) showed that distant gravitational wave (GW) events can now be readily detected. Three candidate mergers containing neutron stars (NS) were reported in a span of 15 days, all likely located more than 100 Mpc away. However, distant events such as the three new NS mergers are likely to be coarsely localized, which highlights the importance of facilities and scheduling systems that enable deep observations over hundreds to thousands of square degrees to detect the electromagnetic counterparts. On 2019-05-10 02:59:39.292 UT the GW candidate S190510g was discovered and initially classified as a BNS merger with 98% probability. The GW event was localized within an area of 3462 deg2, later refined to 1166 deg2 (90%) at a distance of 227 +- 92 Mpc. We triggered Target of Opportunity observations with the Dark Energy Camera (DECam), a wide-field optical imager mounted at the prime focus of the 4m Blanco Telescope at CTIO in Chile. This Letter describes our DECam observations and our real-time analysis results, focusing in particular on the design and implementation of the observing strategy. Within 24 hours of the merger time, we observed 65% of the total enclosed probability of the final skymap with an observing efficiency of 94%. We identified and publicly announced 13 candidate counterparts. S190510g was re-classified 1.7 days after the merger, after our observations were completed, with a "binary neutron star merger" probability reduced from 98% to 42% in favor of a "terrestrial" classification.




22. "EVIDENCE FOR A CHANDRASEKHAR-MASS EXPLOSION IN THE Ca-STRONG 1991bg-LIKE TYPE Ia SUPERNOVA 2016hnk" L. Galbany et al. (48 coauthors, including M. Bulla), Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 630, id.A76, 32 pp. (Oct 2019)


Aims: We present a comprehensive dataset of optical and near-infrared photometry and spectroscopy of type Ia supernova (SN) 2016hnk, combined with integral field spectroscopy (IFS) of its host galaxy, MCG -01-06-070, and nearby environment. Our goal with this complete dataset is to understand the nature of this peculiar object.
Methods: Properties of the SN local environment are characterized by means of single stellar population synthesis applied to IFS observations taken two years after the SN exploded. We performed detailed analyses of SN photometric data by studying its peculiar light and color curves. SN 2016hnk spectra were compared to other 1991bg-like SNe Ia, 2002es-like SNe Ia, and Ca-rich transients. In addition, we used abundance stratification modeling to identify the various spectral features in the early phase spectral sequence and also compared the dataset to a modified non-LTE model previously produced for the sublumnious SN 1999by.
Results: SN 2016hnk is consistent with being a subluminous (MB = -16.7 mag, sBV=0.43 ± 0.03), highly reddened object. The IFS of its host galaxy reveals both a significant amount of dust at the SN location, residual star formation, and a high proportion of old stellar populations in the local environment compared to other locations in the galaxy, which favors an old progenitor for SN 2016hnk. Inspection of a nebular spectrum obtained one year after maximum contains two narrow emission lines attributed to the forbidden [Ca II] λλ7291,7324 doublet with a Doppler shift of 700 km s-1. Based on various observational diagnostics, we argue that the progenitor of SN 2016hnk was likely a near Chandrasekhar-mass (MCh) carbon-oxygen white dwarf that produced 0.108 M☉ of 56Ni. Our modeling suggests that the narrow [Ca II] features observed in the nebular spectrum are associated with 48Ca from electron capture during the explosion, which is expected to occur only in white dwarfs that explode near or at the MCh limit.




25. "SN 2017gmr: AN ENERGETIC TYPE II-P SUPERNOVA WITH ASYMMETRIES" J. E. Andrews et al. (79 coauthors, including M. Bulla), The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 885, Issue 1, article id. 43, 23pp. (Nov 2019)


We present high-cadence UV, optical, and near-infrared data on the luminous Type II-P supernova SN 2017gmr from hours after discovery through the first 180 days. SN 2017gmr does not show signs of narrow, high-ionization emission lines in the early optical spectra, yet the optical light-curve evolution suggests that an extra energy source from circumstellar medium (CSM) interaction must be present for at least 2 days after explosion. Modeling of the early light curve indicates a ∼500 R ☉progenitor radius, consistent with a rather compact red supergiant, and late-time luminosities indicate that up to 0.130 ± 0.026 M ☉ of 56Ni are present, if the light curve is solely powered by radioactive decay, although the 56Ni mass may be lower if CSM interaction contributes to the post-plateau luminosity. Prominent multipeaked emission lines of Hα and [O I] emerge after day 154, as a result of either an asymmetric explosion or asymmetries in the CSM. The lack of narrow lines within the first 2 days of explosion in the likely presence of CSM interaction may be an example of close, dense, asymmetric CSM that is quickly enveloped by the spherical supernova ejecta.




26. "POSSIS: PREDICTING SPECTRA, LIGHT CURVES, AND POLARIZATION FOR MULTIDIMENSIONAL MODELS OF SUPERNOVAE AND KILONOVAE" M. Bulla, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 489, Issue 4, p.5037-5045 (Nov 2019)


We present POSSIS, a time-dependent three-dimensional Monte Carlo code for modelling radiation transport in supernovae and kilonovae. The code incorporates wavelength- and time-dependent opacities, and predicts viewing-angle dependent spectra, light curves, and polarization for both idealized and hydrodynamical explosion models. We apply the code to a kilonova model with two distinct ejecta components, one including lanthanide elements with relatively high opacities and the other devoid of lanthanides and characterized by lower opacities. We find that a model with total ejecta mass M_ej=0.04 M_☉ and half-opening angle of the lanthanide-rich component Φ = 30° provides a good match to GW 170817/AT 2017gfo for orientations near the polar axis (i.e. for a system viewed close to face-on). We then show how crucial is the use of self-consistent multidimensional models in place of combining one-dimensional models to infer important parameters, such as the ejecta masses. We finally explore the impact of Mej and Φ on the synthetic observables and highlight how the relatively fast computation times of POSSIS make it well-suited to perform parameter-space studies and extract key properties of supernovae and kilonovae. Spectra calculated with POSSIS in this and future studies will be made publicly available.




24. "TRANSIENT PROCESSING AND ANALYSIS USING AMPEL: ALERT MANAGEMENT, PHOTOMETRY AND EVALUATION OF LIGHTCURVES" J. Nordin et al. (20 coauthors, including M. Bulla), Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 631, id.A147, 14 pp. (Nov 2019)


Both multi-messenger astronomy and new high-throughput wide-field surveys require flexible tools for the selection and analysis of astrophysical transients. We here introduce the Alert Management, Photometry and Evaluation of Lightcurves (AMPEL) system, an analysis framework designed for high-throughput surveys and suited for streamed data. AMPEL combines the functionality of an alert broker with a generic framework capable of hosting user-contributed code, that encourages provenance and keeps track of the varying information states that a transient displays. The latter concept includes information gathered over time and data policies such as access or calibration levels. We describe a novel ongoing real-time multi-messenger analysis using AMPEL to combine IceCube neutrino data with the alert streams of the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF). We also reprocess the first four months of ZTF public alerts, and compare the yields of more than 200 different transient selection functions to quantify efficiencies for selecting Type Ia supernovae that were reported to the Transient Name Server (TNS). We highlight three channels suitable for (1) the collection of a complete sample of extragalactic transients, (2) immediate follow-up of nearby transients and (3) follow-up campaigns targeting young, extragalactic transients. We confirm ZTF completeness in that all TNS supernovae positioned on active CCD regions were detected. AMPEL can assist in filtering transients in real time, running alert reaction simulations, the reprocessing of full datasets as well as in the final scientific analysis of transient data. This text introduces how users can design their own channels for inclusion in the AMPEL live instance that parses the ZTF stream and the real-time submission of high quality extragalactic supernova candidates to the TNS.




28. "ZTF EARLY OBSERVATIONS OF TYPE Ia SUPERNOVAE I: PROPERTIES OF THE 2018 SAMPLE" Y. Yao et al. (34 coauthors, including M. Bulla),  The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 886, Issue 2, article id. 152, 22 pp. (2019)


Early-time observations of Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) are essential to constrain their progenitor properties. In this paper, we present high-quality light curves of 127 SNe Ia discovered by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) in 2018. We describe our method to perform forced point spread function (PSF) photometry, which can be applied to other types of extragalactic transients. With a planned cadence of six observations per night ($3g+3r$), all of the 127 SNe Ia are detected in both $g$ and $r$ band more than 10\,d (in the rest frame) prior to the epoch of $g$-band maximum light. The redshifts of these objects range from $z=0.0181$ to 0.165; the median redshift is 0.074. Among the 127 SNe, 50 are detected at least 14\,d prior to maximum light (in the rest frame), with a subset of 9 objects being detected more than 17\,d before $g$-band peak. This is the largest sample of young SNe Ia collected to date; it can be used to study the shape and color evolution of the rising light curves in unprecedented detail. We discuss six peculiar events in this sample, including one 02cx-like event ZTF18abclfee (SN\,2018crl), one Ia-CSM SN ZTF18aaykjei (SN\,2018cxk), and four objects with possible super-Chandrasekhar mass progenitors: ZTF18abhpgje (SN\,2018eul), ZTF18abdpvnd (SN\,2018dvf), ZTF18aawpcel (SN\,2018cir) and ZTF18abddmrf (SN\,2018dsx).




29. "CONSTRAINING THE OBSERVER ANGLE OF THE KILONOVA AT2017gfo ASSOCIATED WITH GW170817: IMPLICATIONS FOR THE HUBBLE CONSTANT" S. Dhawan, M. Bulla, A. Goobar, A. Sagues Carracedo & C. N. Setzer, The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 888, Issue 2, article id. 67, 5 pp. (Jan 2020)


There is a strong degeneracy between the luminosity distance (DL) and the observer viewing angle (θobs; hereafter viewing angle) of the gravitational wave (GW) source with an electromagnetic counterpart, GW170817. Here, for the first time, we present independent constraints on θobs=32.5∘+11.7−9.7 from broad-band photometry of the kilonova (kN) AT2017gfo associated with GW170817. These constraints are consistent with independent results presented in the literature using the associated gamma ray burst GRB170817A. Combining the constraints on θobs with the GW data, we find an improvement of 24% on H0. The observer angle constraints are insensitive to other model parameters, e.g. the ejecta mass, half-opening angle of the lanthanide-rich region and the temperature. A broad wavelength coverage extending to the near infrared is helpful to robustly constrain θobs. While the improvement on H0 presented here is smaller than the one from high angular resolution imaging of the radio counterpart of GW170817, kN observations are significantly more feasible at the typical distances of such events from current and future LIGO-Virgo Collaboration observing runs (DL∼100 Mpc). Our results are insensitive to the assumption on the peculiar velocity of the kN host galaxy.




30. "IMPLICATIONS OF THE SEARCH FOR OPTICAL COUNTERPARTS DURING THE FIRST SIX MONTHS OF THE ADVANCED LIGO'S AND ADVANCED VIRGO'S THIRD OBSERVING RUN: POSSIBLE LIMITS ON THE EJECTA MASS AND BINARY PROPERTIES" M. W. Coughlin, T. Dietrich, S. Antier, M. Bulla et al., Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 492, Issue 1, p.863-876 (Feb 2020)


GW170817 showed that neutron star mergers not only emit gravitational waves but also can release electromagnetic signatures in multiple wavelengths. Within the first half of the third observing run of the Advanced LIGO and Virgo detectors, there have been a number of gravitational wave candidates of compact binary systems for which at least one component is potentially a neutron star. In this article, we look at the candidates S190425z, S190426c, S190510g, S190901ap, and S190910h, predicted to have potentially a non-zero remnant mass, in more detail. All these triggers have been followed up with extensive campaigns by the astronomical community doing electromagnetic searches for their optical counterparts; however, according to the released classification, there is a high probability that some of these events might not be of extraterrestrial origin. Assuming that the triggers are caused by a compact binary coalescence and that the individual source locations have been covered during the EM follow-up campaigns, we employ three different kilonova models and apply them to derive possible constraints on the matter ejection consistent with the publicly available gravitational-wave trigger information and the lack of a kilonova detection. These upper bounds on the ejecta mass can be related to limits on the maximum mass of the binary neutron star candidate S190425z and to constraints on the mass-ratio, spin, and NS compactness for the potential black hole-neutron star candidate S190426c. Our results show that deeper electromagnetic observations for future gravitational wave events near the horizon limit of the advanced detectors are essential.




38. "MEASURING THE HUBBLE CONSTANT WITH A SAMPLE OF KILONOVAE" M. W. Coughlin, S. Antier, T. Dietrich, R. J. Foley, J. Heinzel, M. Bulla, N. Christensen, D. A. Coulter, L. Issa, N. Khetan, Nature Communications volume 11, Article number: 4129 (Aug 2020)


Kilonovae produced by the coalescence of compact binaries with at least one neutron star are promising standard sirens for an independent measurement of the Hubble constant ($H_0$). Through their detection via follow-up of gravitational-wave (GW), short gamma-ray bursts (sGRBs) or optical surveys, a large sample of kilonovae (even without GW data) can be used for $H_0$ contraints. Here, we show measurement of $H_0$ using light curves associated with four sGRBs, assuming these are attributable to kilonovae, combined with GW170817. Including a systematic uncertainty on the models that is as large as the statistical ones, we find $H_0 = 73.8^{+6.3}_{-5.8}$\,$\mathrm{km}$ $\mathrm{s}^{-1}$ $\mathrm{Mpc}^{-1}$ and $H_0 = 71.2^{+3.2}_{-3.1}$\,$\mathrm{km}$ $\mathrm{s}^{-1}$ $\mathrm{Mpc}^{-1}$ for two different kilonova models that are consistent with the local and inverse-distance ladder measurements. For a given model, this measurement is about a factor of 2-3 more precise than the standard-siren measurement for GW170817 using only GWs.




31. "MONTE CARLO RADIATIVE TRANSFER FOR THE NEBULAR PHASE OF TYPE Ia SUPERNOVAE" L. J. Shingles, S. A. Sim, M. Kromer, K. Maguire, M. Bulla et al., Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 492, Issue 2, p.2029-2043 (Feb 2020)


We extend the range of validity of the ARTIS 3D radiative transfer code up to hundreds of days after explosion, when Type Ia supernovae are in their nebular phase. To achieve this, we add a non-local thermodynamic equilibrium (non-LTE) population and ionisation solver, a new multi-frequency radiation field model, and a new atomic dataset with forbidden transitions. We treat collisions with non-thermal leptons resulting from nuclear decays to account for their contribution to excitation, ionisation, and heating. We validate our method with a variety of tests including comparing our synthetic nebular spectra for the well-known one-dimensional W7 model with the results of other studies. As an illustrative application of the code, we present synthetic nebular spectra for the detonation of a sub-Chandrasekhar white dwarf in which the possible effects of gravitational settling of Ne22 prior to explosion have been explored. Specifically, we compare synthetic nebular spectra for a 1.06 M$_\odot$ white dwarf model obtained when 5.5 Gyr of very-efficient settling is assumed to a similar model without settling. We find that this degree of Ne22 settling has only a modest effect on the resulting nebular spectra due to increased Ni58 abundance. Due to the high ionisation in sub-Chandrasekhar models, the nebular [Ni II] emission remains negligible, while the [Ni III] line strengths are increased and the overall ionisation balance is slightly lowered in the model with Ne22 settling. In common with previous studies of sub-Chandrasekhar models at nebular epochs, these models overproduce [Fe III] emission relative to [Fe II] in comparison to observations of normal Type Ia supernovae.




32. "GROWTH ON S190814bv: DEEP SYNOPTIC LIMITS ON THE OPTICAL/NEAR-INFRARED COUNTERPART TO A NEUTRON STAR-BLACK HOLE MERGER" I. Andreoni, et al. (51 coauthors, including M. Bulla), The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 890, Issue 2, id.131, 16 pp. (Feb 2020)


We extend the range of validity of the ARTIS 3D radiative transfer code up to hundreds of days after explosion, when Type Ia supernovae are in their nebular phase. To achieve this, we add a non-local thermodynamic equilibrium (non-LTE) population and ionisation solver, a new multi-frequency radiation field model, and a new atomic dataset with forbidden transitions. We treat collisions with non-thermal leptons resulting from nuclear decays to account for their contribution to excitation, ionisation, and heating. We validate our method with a variety of tests including comparing our synthetic nebular spectra for the well-known one-dimensional W7 model with the results of other studies. As an illustrative application of the code, we present synthetic nebular spectra for the detonation of a sub-Chandrasekhar white dwarf in which the possible effects of gravitational settling of Ne22 prior to explosion have been explored. Specifically, we compare synthetic nebular spectra for a 1.06 M$_\odot$ white dwarf model obtained when 5.5 Gyr of very-efficient settling is assumed to a similar model without settling. We find that this degree of Ne22 settling has only a modest effect on the resulting nebular spectra due to increased Ni58 abundance. Due to the high ionisation in sub-Chandrasekhar models, the nebular [Ni II] emission remains negligible, while the [Ni III] line strengths are increased and the overall ionisation balance is slightly lowered in the model with Ne22 settling. In common with previous studies of sub-Chandrasekhar models at nebular epochs, these models overproduce [Fe III] emission relative to [Fe II] in comparison to observations of normal Type Ia supernovae.




33. "WHITE DWARF DEFLAGRATIONS FOR TYPE IAX SUPERNOVAE: POLARISATION SIGNATURES FROM THE EXPLOSION AND COMPANION INTERACTION" M. Bulla, Z.-W. Liu, F. K. Roepke, S. A. Sim, M. Fink, M. Kromer, M., R. Pakmor, I. R. Seitenzahl,  Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 635, id.A179, 7 pp. (Mar 2020)


Growing evidence suggests that Type Iax supernovae might be the result of thermonuclear deflagrations of Chandrasekhar-mass white dwarfs in binary systems. We carry out Monte Carlo radiative transfer simulations and predict spectropolarimetric features originating from the supernova explosion and subsequent ejecta interaction with the companion star. Specifically, we calculate viewing-angle dependent flux and polarisation spectra for a 3D model simulating the deflagration of a Chandrasekhar-mass white dwarf and, for a second model, simulating the ejecta interaction with a main-sequence star. We find that the intrinsic signal is weakly polarised and only mildly viewing-angle dependent, owing to the overall spherical symmetry of the explosion and the depolarising contribution of iron-group elements dominating the ejecta composition. The interaction with the companion star carves out a cavity in the ejecta and produces a detectable, but modest signal that is significant only at relatively blue wavelengths (≲5000 Å). In particular, increasingly fainter and redder spectra are predicted for observer orientations further from the cavity, while a modest polarisation signal P ~ 0.2 per cent is found at blue wavelengths for orientations 30° and 45° away from the cavity. We find a reasonable agreement between the interaction model viewed from these orientations and spectropolarimetric data of SN 2005hk and interpret the maximum-light polarisation signal seen at blue wavelengths for this event as a possible signature of the ejecta-companion interaction. We encourage further polarimetric observations of SNe Iax to test whether our results can be extended and generalised to the whole SN Iax class.




34. "STANDARDIZING KILONOVAE AND THEIR USE AS STANDARD CANDLES TO MEASURE THE HUBBLE CONSTANT" M. W. Coughlin, T. Dietrich, J. Heinzel, N. Khetan, S. Antier, M. Bulla, N. Christensen, D. A. Coulter, R. J. Foley,  Physical Review Research, Volume 2, Issue 2, article id.022006 (Apr 2020)


The detection of GW170817 is revolutionizing many areas of astrophysics with the joint observation of gravitational waves and electromagnetic emissions. These multimessenger events provide a new approach to determine the Hubble constant, thus, they are a promising candidate for mitigating the tension between measurements of type-Ia supernovae via the local distance ladder and the cosmic microwave background. In addition to the "standard siren" provided by the gravitational-wave measurement, the kilonova itself has characteristics that allow one to improve existing measurements or to perform yet another, independent measurement of the Hubble constant without gravitational-wave information. Here, we employ standardization techniques borrowed from the type-Ia community and apply them to kilonovae, not using any information from the gravitational-wave signal. We use two versions of this technique, one derived from direct observables measured from the light curve, and the other based on inferred ejecta parameters, e.g., mass, velocity, and composition, for two different models. These lead to Hubble constant measurements of H0=109-35+49 km s-1 Mpc-1 for the measured analysis, and H0=85-17+22 km s-1 Mpc-1 and H0=79-15+23 km s-1 Mpc-1 for the inferred analyses. This measurement has error bars within ∼2 to the gravitational-wave measurements (H0=74-8+16 km s-1 Mpc-1), showing its promise as an independent constraint on H0.




35. "LATE-PHASE SPECTROPOLARIMETRIC OBSERVATIONS OF SUPERLUMINOUS SUPERNOVA SN 2017egm TO PROBE THE GEOMETRY OF THE INNER EJECTA" S. Saito, M. Tanaka, T. J. Moriya, M. Bulla, G. Leloudas, C. Inserra, C.-H. Lee, K. S. Kawabata, P. Mazzali, The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 894, Issue 2, id.154, 7pp. (May 2020)


We present our spectropolarimetric observations of SN 2017egm, a Type I superluminous supernova (SLSN-I) in a nearby galaxy NGC 3191, with the Subaru telescope at +185.0 days after the g-band maximum light. This is the first spectropolarimetric observation for SLSNe at late phases. We find that the degree of the polarization in the late phase significantly changes from that measured at the earlier phase. The spectrum at the late phase shows a strong Ca emission line and therefore we reliably estimate the interstellar polarization (ISP) component assuming that the emission line is intrinsically unpolarized. By subtracting the estimated ISP, we find that the intrinsic polarization at the early phase is only ∼0.2%, which indicates an almost spherical photosphere, with an axial ratio ∼1.05. The intrinsic polarization at the late phase increases to ∼0.8%, which corresponds to the photosphere with an axial ratio ∼1.2. A nearly constant position angle of the polarization suggests the inner ejecta are almost axisymmetric. By these observations, we conclude that the inner ejecta are more aspherical than the outer ejecta. This may suggest the presence of a central energy source producing aspherical inner ejecta.




36. "THE SPECTACULAR ULTRAVIOLET FLASH FROM THE PECULIAR TYPE Ia SUPERNOVA 2019yvq" A. A. Miller et al. (44 coauthors, including M. Bulla),The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 894, Issue 2, id.154, 7pp. (Jul 2020)


Early observations of Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) provide essential clues for understanding the progenitor system that gave rise to the terminal thermonuclear explosion. We present exquisite observations of SN 2019yvq, the second observed SN Ia, after iPTF 14atg, to display an early flash of emission in the ultraviolet (UV) and optical. Our analysis finds that SN 2019yvq was unusual, even when ignoring the initial flash, in that it was moderately underluminous for an SN Ia ( Mg≈−18.5 mag at peak) yet featured very high absorption velocities ( v≈15,000 km s-1 for Si II λ6355 at peak). We find that many of the observational features of SN 2019yvq, aside from the flash, can be explained if the explosive yield of radioactive 56Ni is relatively low (we measure M56Ni=0.31±0.05M⊙ ) and it and other iron-group elements are concentrated in the innermost layers of the ejecta. To explain both the UV/optical flash and peak properties of SN 2019yvq we consider four different models: interaction between the SN ejecta and a nondegenerate companion, extended clumps of 56Ni in the outer ejecta, a double-detonation explosion, and the violent merger of two white dwarfs. Each of these models has shortcomings when compared to the observations; it is clear additional tuning is required to better match SN 2019yvq. In closing, we predict that the nebular spectra of SN 2019yvq will feature either H or He emission, if the ejecta collided with a companion, strong [Ca II] emission, if it was a double detonation, or narrow [O I] emission, if it was due to a violent merger.




37. "IMPLICATIONS OF THE SEARCH FOR OPTICAL COUNTERPARTS DURING THE SECOND PART OF THE ADVANCED LIGO'S AND ADVANCED VIRGO'S THIRD OBSERVING RUN: LESSONS LEARNED FOR FUTURE FOLLOW-UP OBSERVATIONS" M. W. Coughlin, T. Dietrich, S. Antier, M. Almualla, S. Anand, M. Bulla, F. Foucart, N. Guessoum et al., Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 497, Issue 1, pp.1181-1196 (Jul 2020)


Joint multimessenger observations with gravitational waves and electromagnetic (EM) data offer new insights into the astrophysical studies of compact objects. The third Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo observing run began on 2019 April 1; during the 11 months of observation, there have been 14 compact binary systems candidates for which at least one component is potentially a neutron star. Although intensive follow-up campaigns involving tens of ground and space-based observatories searched for counterparts, no EM counterpart has been detected. Following on a previous study of the first six months of the campaign, we present in this paper the next five months of the campaign from 2019 October to 2020 March. We highlight two neutron star-black hole candidates (S191205ah and S200105ae), two binary neutron star candidates (S191213g and S200213t), and a binary merger with a possible neutron star and a 'MassGap' component, S200115j. Assuming that the gravitational-wave (GW) candidates are of astrophysical origin and their location was covered by optical telescopes, we derive possible constraints on the matter ejected during the events based on the non-detection of counterparts. We find that the follow-up observations during the second half of the third observing run did not meet the necessary sensitivity to constrain the source properties of the potential GW candidate. Consequently, we suggest that different strategies have to be used to allow a better usage of the available telescope time. We examine different choices for follow-up surveys to optimize sky localization coverage versus observational depth to understand the likelihood of counterpart detection.




40. "ZTF EARLY OBSERVATIONS OF TYPE Ia SUPERNOVAE II: FIRST LIGHT, THE INITAL RISE, AND TIME TO REACH MAXIMUM BRIGHTNESS" A. A. Miller, Y. Yao, M. Bulla, C. Pankow, E. C. Bellm, et al., The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 902, Issue 1, id.47, 25 pp. (Oct 2020)


While it is clear that Type Ia supernovae (SNe) are the result of thermonuclear explosions in C/O white dwarfs (WDs), a great deal remains uncertain about the binary companion that facilitates the explosive disruption of the WD. Here, we present a comprehensive analysis of a unique, and large, data set of 127 SNe Ia with exquisite coverage by the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF). High-cadence (6 observations per night) ZTF observations allow us to measure the SN rise time and examine its initial evolution. We develop a Bayesian framework to model the early rise as a power-law in time, which enables the inclusion of priors in our model. For a volume-limited subset of normal SNe Ia, we find the mean power-law index is consistent with 2 in the rZTF-band (αr = 2.01 ± 0.02), as expected in the expanding fireball model. There are, however, individual SNe that are clearly inconsistent with αr = 2. We estimate a mean rise time of 18.9 d (with a range extending from ∼15–22 d), though this is subject to the adopted prior. We identify an important, previously unknown, bias whereby the rise times for higher redshift SNe within a flux-limited survey are systematically underestimated. This effect can be partially alleviated if the power-law index is fixed to α = 2, in which case we estimate a mean rise time of 21.7 d (with a range from ∼18–23 d). The sample includes a handful of rare and peculiar SNeIa. Finally, we conclude with a discussion of lessons learned from the ZTF sample that can eventually be applied to observations from the Vera C. Rubin Observatory.




41. "ZTF EARLY OBSERVATIONS OF TYPE Ia SUPERNOVAE III: EARLY-TIME COLORS AS A TEST FOR EXPLOSION MODELS AND MULTIPLE POPULATIONS" M. Bulla, A. A. Miller, Y. Yao, et al., The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 902, Issue 1, id.48, 14 pp. (Oct 2020)


Colors of Type Ia supernovae in the first few days after explosion provide a potential discriminant between different models. In this paper, we present $g-r$ colors of 65 Type Ia supernovae discovered within 5 days from first light by the Zwicky Transient Facility in 2018, a sample that is about three times larger than that in the literature. We find that $g-r$ colors are intrinsically rather homogeneous at early phases, with about half of the dispersion attributable to photometric uncertainties ($\sigma_\mathrm{noise}\sim\sigma_\mathrm{int}\sim$ 0.18 mag). Colors are nearly constant starting from 6 days after first light ($g-r\sim-0.15$ mag), while the time evolution at earlier epochs is characterized by a continuous range of slopes, from events rapidly transitioning from redder to bluer colors (slope of $\sim-0.25$ mag day$^{-1}$) to events with a flatter evolution. The continuum in the slope distribution is in good agreement both with models requiring some amount of $^{56}$Ni mixed in the outermost regions of the ejecta and with "double-detonation" models having thin helium layers ($M_\mathrm{He}=0.01\,M_\odot$) and varying carbon-oxygen core masses. At the same time, six events show evidence for a distinctive "red bump" signature predicted by "double-detonation" models with larger helium masses. We finally identify a significant correlation between the early-time $g-r$ slopes and supernova brightness, with brighter events associated to flatter color evolution (p-value=0.006). The distribution of slopes, however, is consistent with being drawn from a single population, with no evidence for two components as claimed in the literature based on $B-V$ colors.




48. "PS15cey AND PS17cke: PROSPECTIVE CANDIDATES FROM THE Pan-STARRS SEARCH FOR KILONOVAE" O. R. McBrien, S. J. Smartt, M. E. Huber, A. Rest, K. C. Chambers, C. Barbieri, M. Bulla, et al., Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 500, Issue 3, pp.4213-4228 (Jan 2021)


Time domain astronomy was revolutionised with the discovery of the first kilonova, AT2017gfo, in August 2017 which was associated with the gravitational wave signal GW170817. Since this event, numerous wide-field surveys have been optimising search strategies to maximise their efficiency of detecting these fast and faint transients. With the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (Pan-STARRS), we have been conducting a volume limited survey for intrinsically faint and fast fading events to a distance of D≃200 Mpc. Two promising candidates have been identified from this archival search, with sparse data - PS15cey and PS17cke. Here we present more detailed analysis and discussion of their nature. We observe that PS15cey was a luminous, fast declining transient at 320 Mpc. Models of BH-NS mergers with a very stiff equation of state could possibly reproduce the luminosity and decline but the physical parameters are extreme. A more likely scenario is that this was a SN2018kzr-like merger event. PS17cke was a faint and fast declining event at 15 Mpc. We explore several explosion scenarios of this transient including models of it as a NS-NS and BH-NS merger, the outburst of a massive luminous star, and compare it against other known fast fading transients. Although there is uncertainty in the explosion scenario due to difficulty in measuring the explosion epoch, we find PS17cke to be a plausible kilonova candidate from the model comparisons.




42. "OBSERVATIONAL CONSTRAINTS ON THE OPTICAL AND NEAR-INFRARED EMISSION FROM THE NEUTRON STAR - BLACK HOLE BINARY MERGER S1900814bv" K. Ackley et al. (153 coauthors, including M. Bulla), Astronomy & Astrophysics, Volume 643, id.A113, 48 pp. (Nov 2020)


On 2019 August 14, the LIGO and Virgo interferometers detected a high-significance event labelled S190814bv. Preliminary analysis of the GW data suggests that the event was likely due to the merger of a compact binary system formed by a BH and a NS. ElectromagNetic counterparts of GRAvitational wave sources at the VEry Large Telescope (ENGRAVE) collaboration members carried out an intensive multi-epoch, multi-instrument observational campaign to identify the possible optical/near infrared counterpart of the event. In addition, the ATLAS, GOTO, GRAWITA-VST, Pan-STARRS and VINROUGE projects also carried out a search on this event. Our observations allow us to place limits on the presence of any counterpart and discuss the implications for the kilonova (KN) possibly generated by this NS-BH merger, and for the strategy of future searches. Altogether, our observations allow us to exclude a KN with large ejecta mass $M\gtrsim 0.1\,\mathrm{M_\odot}$ to a high ($>90\%$) confidence, and we can exclude much smaller masses in a subsample of our observations. This disfavours the tidal disruption of the neutron star during the merger. Despite the sensitive instruments involved in the campaign, given the distance of S190814bv we could not reach sufficiently deep limits to constrain a KN comparable in luminosity to AT 2017gfo on a large fraction of the localisation probability. This suggests that future (likely common) events at a few hundreds Mpc will be detected only by large facilities with both high sensitivity and large field of view. Galaxy-targeted observations can reach the needed depth over a relevant portion of the localisation probability with a smaller investment of resources, but the number of galaxies to be targeted in order to get a fairly complete coverage is large, even in the case of a localisation as good as that of this event.




39. "OPTICAL FOLLOW-UP OF THE NEUTRON STAR-BLACK HOLE MERGERS S200105AE AND S200115J" S. Anand, M. W. Coughlin, M. M. Kasliwal, M. Bulla, T. Ahumada, et al., Nature Astronomy (Sep 2020)


LIGO and Virgo's third observing run revealed the first neutron star-black hole (NSBH) merger candidates in gravitational waves. These events are predicted to synthesize r-process elements1,2 creating optical/near-infrared `kilonova' emission. The joint gravitational wave and electromagnetic detection of an NSBH merger could be used to constrain the equation of state of dense nuclear matter3, and independently measure the local expansion rate of the Universe4. Here, we present the optical follow-up and analysis of two of the only three high-significance NSBH merger candidates detected to date, S200105ae and S200115j, with the Zwicky Transient Facility5. The Zwicky Transient Facility observed ~48% of S200105ae and ~22% of S200115j's localization probabilities, with observations sensitive to kilonovae brighter than -17.5 mag fading at 0.5 mag d-1 in the g- and r-bands; extensive searches and systematic follow-up of candidates did not yield a viable counterpart. We present state-of-the-art kilonova models tailored to NSBH systems that place constraints on the ejecta properties of these NSBH mergers. We show that with observed depths of apparent magnitude ~22 mag, attainable in metre-class, wide-field-of-view survey instruments, strong constraints on ejecta mass are possible, with the potential to rule out low mass ratios, high black hole spins and large neutron star radii.




45. "MULTIMESSENGER CONTRAINTS ON THE NEUTRON-STAR EQUATION OF STATE AND THE HUBBLE CONSTANT" T. Dietrich, M. W. Coughlin, P. T. H. Pang, M. Bulla, J. Heinzel, L. Issa, I. Tews, S. Antier, et al., Science, 370, 1450 (Dec 2020)


Observations of neutron-star mergers with distinct messengers, including gravitational waves and electromagnetic signals, can be used to study the behavior of matter denser than an atomic nucleus and to measure the expansion rate of the Universe as quantified by the Hubble constant. We performed a joint analysis of the gravitational-wave event GW170817 with its electromagnetic counterparts AT2017gfo and GRB170817A, and the gravitational-wave event GW190425, both originating from neutron-star mergers. We combined these with previous measurements of pulsars using x-ray and radio observations, and nuclear-theory computations using chiral effective field theory, to constrain the neutron-star equation of state. We found that the radius of a 1.4–solar mass neutron star is 11.75+0.86−0.81 km at 90% confidence and the Hubble constant is 66.2+4.4−4.2 at 1σ uncertainty.




47. "CAN JETS MAKE THE RADIOACTIVELY POWERED EMISSION FROM NEUTRON STAR MERGERS BLUER?" L. Nativi, M. Bulla, S. Rosswog, C. Lundman, G. Kowal, D. Gizzi, G. P. Lamb & A. Perego, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 500, Issue 2, pp.1772-1783 (Jan 2021)


Neutron star mergers eject neutron-rich matter in which heavy elements are synthesised. The decay of these freshly synthesised elements powers electromagnetic transients ("macronovae" or "kilonovae") whose luminosity and colour strongly depend on their nuclear composition. If the ejecta are very neutron-rich (electron fraction Ye < 0.25), they contain fair amounts of lanthanides and actinides which have large opacities and therefore efficiently trap the radiation inside the ejecta so that the emission peaks in the red part of the spectrum. Even small amounts of this high-opacity material can obscure emission from lower lying material and therefore act as a "lanthanide curtain". Here, we investigate how a relativistic jet that punches through the ejecta can potentially push away a significant fraction of the high opacity material before the macronova begins to shine. We use the results of detailed neutrino-driven wind studies as initial conditions and explore with 3D special relativistic hydrodynamic simulations how jets are propagating through these winds. Subsequently, we perform Monte Carlo radiative transfer calculations to explore the resulting macronova emission. We find that the hole punched by the jet makes the macronova brighter and bluer for on-axis observers during the first few days of emission, and that more powerful jets have larger impacts on the macronova.




46. "CAN HELIUM-DETONATION MODEL EXPLAIN THE OBSERVED DIVERSITY OF TYPE IA SUPERNOVAE" W. Li, X. Wang, M. Bulla, Y.-C. Pan, L. Wang et al., The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 906, Issue 2, id.99, 12pp. (Jan 2021)


We study a sample of 16 Type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) having both spectroscopic and photometric observations within 2 − 3 days after the first light. The early B−V colors of such a sample tends to show a continuous distribution. For objects with normal ejecta velocity (NV), the C~II λ6580 feature is always visible in the early spectra while it is absent or very weak in the high-velocity (HV) counterpart. Moreover, the velocities of the detached high-velocity features (HVFs) of Ca~II NIR triplet (CaIR3) above the photosphere are found to be much higher in HV objects than in NV objects, with typical values exceeding 30,000 km~s−1 at 2 − 3 days. We further analyze the relation between %velocities of Si~II~λ6355 at maximum, vSi,max, the velocity shift of late-time [Fe~II] lines (v[Fe II]) and host galaxy mass. We find that all HV objects have redshifted v[Fe II] while NV objects have both blue- and redshifted v[Fe II]. It is interesting to point out that the objects with redshifted v[Fe II] are all located in massive galaxies, implying that HV and a portion of NV objects may have similar progenitor metallicities and explosion mechanisms. We propose that, with a geometric/projected effect, the He-detonation model may account for the similarity in birthplace environment and the differences seen in some SNe Ia, including B−V colors, C~II feature, CaIR3 HVFs at early time and v[Fe II] in the nebular phase. Nevertheless, some features predicted by He-detonation simulation, such as the rapidly decreasing light curve, deviate from the observations, and some NV objects with blueshifted nebular v[Fe II] may involve other explosion mechanisms.




44. "KILONOVA LUMINOSITY FUNCTION CONSTRAINTS BASED ON ZWICKY TRANSIENT FACILITY SEARCHES FOR 13 NEUTRON STAR MERGERS" M. M. Kasliwal et al. (102 co-authors, including M. Bulla),  The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 905, Issue 2, id.145, 31 pp. (Dec 2020)


We present a systematic search for optical counterparts to 13 gravitational wave (GW) triggers involving at least one neutron star during LIGO/Virgo's third observing run. We searched binary neutron star (BNS) and neutron star black hole (NSBH) merger localizations with the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) and undertook follow-up with the Global Relay of Observatories Watching Transients Happen (GROWTH) collaboration. The GW triggers had a median localization of 4480 deg^2, median distance of 267 Mpc and false alarm rates ranging from 1.5 to 1e-25 per yr. The ZTF coverage had a median enclosed probability of 39%, median depth of 20.8mag, and median response time of 1.5 hr. The O3 follow-up by the GROWTH team comprised 340 UVOIR photometric points, 64 OIR spectra, and 3 radio. We find no promising kilonova (radioactivity-powered counterpart) and we convert the upper limits to constrain the underlying kilonova luminosity function. Assuming that all kilonovae are at least as luminous as GW170817 at discovery (-16.1mag), we calculate our joint probability of detecting zero kilonovae is only 4.2%. If we assume that all kilonovae are brighter than -16.6mag (extrapolated peak magnitude of GW170817) and fade at 1 mag/day (similar to GW170817), the joint probability of zero detections is 7%. If we separate the NSBH and BNS populations, the joint probability of zero detections, assuming all kilonovae are brighter than -16.6mag, is 9.7% for NSBH and 7.9% for BNS mergers. Moreover, <57% (<89%) of putative kilonovae could be brighter than -16.6mag assuming flat (fading) evolution, at 90% confidence. If we further account for the online terrestrial probability for each GW trigger, we find that <68% of putative kilonovae could be brighter than -16.6mag. Comparing to model grids, we find that some kilonovae must have Mej < 0.03 Msun or Xlan>1e-4 or phi>30deg to be consistent with our limits.




54. "OPTIMIZING SERENDIPITOUS DETECTIONS OF KILONOVAE: CADENCE AND FILTER SELECTION" M. Almualla, S. Anand, M. W. Coughlin, T. Dietrich, N. Guessoum, A. Sagues Carracedo, T. Ahumada, I. Andreoni, S. Antier, E. C. Bellm, M. Bulla, L. P. Singer, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, in press


The rise of multi-messenger astronomy has brought with it the need to exploit all available data streams and learn more about the astrophysical objects that fall within its breadth. One possible avenue is the search for serendipitous optical/near-infrared counterparts of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) and gravitational-wave (GW) signals, known as kilonovae. With surveys such as the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), which observes the sky with a cadence of ∼ three days, the existing counterpart locations are likely to be observed; however, due to the significant amount of sky to explore, it is difficult to search for these fast-evolving candidates. Thus, it is beneficial to optimize the survey cadence for realtime kilonova identification and enable further photometric and spectroscopic observations. We explore how the cadence of wide field-of-view surveys like ZTF can be improved to facilitate such identifications. We show that with improved observational choices, e.g., the adoption of three epochs per night on a ∼ nightly basis, and the prioritization of redder photometric bands, detection efficiencies improve by about a factor of two relative to the nominal cadence. We also provide realistic hypothetical constraints on the kilonova rate as a form of comparison between strategies, assuming that no kilonovae are detected throughout the long-term execution of the respective observing plan. These results demonstrate how an optimal use of ZTF increases the likelihood of kilonova discovery independent of GWs or GRBs, thereby allowing for a sensitive search with less interruption of its nominal cadence through Target of Opportunity programs.




43. "CONSTRAINING THE KILONOVA RATE WITH ZWICKY TRANSIENT FACILITY SEARCHES INDEPENDENT OF GRAVITATIONAL WAVE AND SHORT GAMMA-RAY BURST TRIGGERS" I. Andreoni, E. Kool, A. Sagues Carracedo, M. M. Kasliwal, M. Bulla, T. Ahumada, et al., The Astrophysical Journal, Volume 904, Issue 2, id.155, 19 pp (Dec 2020)


The first binary neutron star merger, GW170817, was accompanied by a radioactivity-powered optical/infrared transient called a kilonova. To date, no compelling kilonova has been found during optical surveys of the sky, independent of gravitational-wave triggers. In this work, we searched the first 23 months of the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF) data stream for candidate kilonovae in the form of rapidly evolving transients. We combined ZTF alert queries with forced point-spread-function photometry and nightly flux stacking to increase our sensitivity to faint and fast transients. Automatic queries yielded >11,200 candidates, 24 of which passed quality checks and strict selection criteria based on a grid of kilonova models tailored for both binary neutron star and neutron star-black hole mergers. None of the candidates in our sample was deemed a possible kilonova after thorough vetting, catalog cross-matching, and study of their color evolution. The sources that passed our selection criteria are dominated by Galactic cataclysmic variables. In addition, we identified two fast transients at high Galactic latitude, one of which is the confirmed afterglow of long-duration GRB190106A, and the other is a possible cosmological afterglow. Using a survey simulation code, we constrained the kilonova rate for a range of models including top-hat and linearly decaying light curves and synthetic light curves obtained with radiative transfer simulations. For prototypical GW170817-like kilonovae, we constrain the rate to be R<1775 Gpc−3 yr−1 at 95% confidence level by requiring at least 2 high-significance detections. By assuming a population of kilonovae with the same geometry and composition of GW170817 observed under a uniform viewing angle distribution, we obtained a constraint on the rate of R<4029 Gpc−3 yr−1.




50. "POLARIZED KILONOVAE FROM BLACK HOLE - NEUTRON STAR MERGERS" M. Bulla, K. Kyutoku, M. Tanaka, S. Covino, J. R. Bruten et al., Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 501, Issue 2, pp.1891-1899 (Feb 2021)


We predict linear polarization for a radioactively-powered kilonova following the merger of a black hole and a neutron star. Specifically, we perform 3-D Monte Carlo radiative transfer simulations for two different models, both featuring a lanthanide-rich dynamical ejecta component from numerical-relativity simulations while only one including an additional lanthanide-free disk wind component. We calculate polarization spectra for nine different orientations at 1.5, 2.5 and 3.5 d after the merger and in the 0.1 - 2 μm wavelength range. We find that both models are polarized at a detectable level 1.5 d after the merger while show negligible levels thereafter. The polarization spectra of the two models are significantly different. The model lacking a disk wind shows no polarization in the optical, while a signal increasing at longer wavelengths and reaching $\sim 1\%-6\%$ at 2 μm depending on the orientation. The model with a disk-wind component, instead, features a characteristic "double-peak" polarization spectrum with one peak in the optical and the other in the infrared. Polarimetric observations of future events will shed light on the debated neutron richness of the disk-wind component. The detection of optical polarization would unambiguously reveal the presence of a lanthanide-free disk-wind component, while polarization increasing from zero in the optical to a peak in the infrared would suggest a lanthanide-rich composition for the whole ejecta. Future polarimetric campaigns should prioritize observations in the first ∼48 hours and in the 0.5 - 2 μm range, where polarization is strongest, but also explore shorter wavelengths/later times where no signal is expected from the kilonova and the interstellar polarization can be safely estimated.




49. "ON THE NATURE OF GW190814 AND ITS IMPACT ON THE UNDERSTANDING OF SUPRANUCLEAR MATTER" I. Tews, P. T. H. Pang, T. Dietrich, M. W. Coughlin, S. Antier, M. Bulla, J. Heinzel, L. Issa, The Astrophysical Journal Letters, Volume 908, Issue 1, id.L1, 6pp. (Feb 2021)


The observation of a compact object with a mass of 2.50−2.67M⊙ on August 14, 2019, by the LIGO Scientific and Virgo collaborations (LVC) has the potential to improve our understanding of the supranuclear equation of state. While the gravitational-wave analysis of the LVC suggests that GW190814 likely was a binary black hole system, the secondary component could also have been the heaviest neutron star observed to date. We use our previously derived nuclear-physics--multi-messenger astrophysics framework to address the nature of this object. Based on our findings, we determine GW190814 to be a binary black hole merger with a probability of >99.9%. Even if we weaken previously employed constraints on the maximum mass of neutron stars, the probability of a binary black hole origin is still ∼86%. Furthermore, we study the impact that this observation has on our understanding of the nuclear equation of state by analyzing the allowed region in the mass-radius diagram of neutron stars for both a binary black hole or neutron star - black hole scenario. We find that the unlikely scenario in which the secondary object was a neutron star requires rather stiff equations of state with a maximum speed of sound cs≥√0.6 times the speed of light, while the binary black hole scenario does not offer any new insight.




51. "COMPARING INCLINATION DEPENDENT ANALYSES OF KILONOVA TRANSIENTS" J. Heinzel, M. W. Coughlin, T. Dietrich, M. Bulla, S. Antier, N. Christensen, et al., Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 502, Issue 2, pp.3057-3065


The detection of AT2017gfo proved that binary neutron star mergers are progenitors of kilonovae. Using a combination of numerical-relativity and radiative-transfer simulations, the community has developed sophisticated models for these transients for a wide portion of the expected parameter space. Using these simulations and surrogate models made from them, it has been possible to perform Bayesian inference of the observed signals to infer properties of the ejected matter. It has been pointed out that combining inclination constraints derived from the kilonova with gravitational-wave measurements increases the accuracy with which binary parameters can be measured and allows a more accurate inference of the Hubble Constant. In order to not introduce biases, constraints on the inclination angle for AT2017gfo should be insensitive to the employed models. In this work, we compare different assumptions about the ejecta and radiative reprocesses used by the community and we investigate their impact on the parameter inference. While most inferred parameters agree, we find disagreement between posteriors for the inclination angle for different geometries that have been used in the literature. According to our study, the inclusion of reprocessing of the photons between different ejecta types improves the modeling fits to AT2017gfo and in some cases affects the inferred constraints. Our study motivates the inclusion of large ∼ 1 mag uncertainties in the kilonova models employed for Bayesian analysis to capture yet unknown systematics, especially when inferring inclination angles, although smaller uncertainties seem appropriate to capture model systematics for other parameters. We also use this method to impose soft constraints on the ejecta geometry of the kilonova AT2017gfo.




52. "INFRARED SPECTROPOLARIMETRIC DETECTION OF INTRINSIC POLARIZATION FROM A CORE-COLLAPSE SUPERNOVA" S. Tinyanont, M. Millar-Blanchaer, M. M. Kasliwal, D. Mawet, D. C. Leonard, M. Bulla, K. De, et al., Nature Astronomy, in press


Massive stars die an explosive death as a core-collapse supernova (CCSN). The exact physical processes that cause the collapsing star to rebound into an explosion are not well understood1-3, and the key to resolving this issue may lie in the measurement of the shape of CCSNe ejecta. Spectropolarimetry is the only way to perform this measurement for CCSNe outside the Milky Way and Magellanic Clouds. We present the infrared spectropolarimetric detection of a CCSN enabled by the new highly sensitive WIRC+Pol instrument at Palomar Observatory, which can observe CCSNe (magnitude M = ‒17 mag) out to 20 Mpc at ~0.1% polarimetric precision. Infrared spectropolarimetry is less affected than optical spectropolarimetry by dust scattering in the circumstellar and interstellar media, thereby providing a less biased probe of the intrinsic geometry of the supernova ejecta. SN 2018hna, a SN 1987A-like explosion, shows 2.0 ± 0.3% continuum polarization in the J band oriented at ~160° on sky 182 days after the explosion. Assuming a prolate geometry as in SN 1987A, we infer an ejecta axis ratio of <0.48 with the axis of symmetry pointing at a 70° position angle. The axis ratio is similar to that of SN 1987A, suggesting that the two CCSNe may share intrinsic geometry and inclination angles. Our data do not rule out oblate ejecta. We also observe one other CCSN and two thermonuclear supernovae in the J band. Supernova 2020oi, a stripped-envelope type Ic SN in Messier 100 has broadband p = 0.37 ± 0.09% at peak light, indicative of either a 10% asymmetry or host interstellar polarization. The type Ia SNe 2019ein and 2020ue have <0.33% and <1.08% polarization near peak light, indicative of asymmetries of less than 10% and 20%, respectively.




53. "DETECTABILITY OF KILONOVAE IN OPTICAL SURVEYS: POST-MORTEM EXAMINATION OF THE LVC O3 RUN FOLLOW-UP" A. Sagues Carracedo, M. Bulla, U. Feindt and A. Goobar, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, Volume 504, Issue 1, pp.1294-1303 (Jun 2021)


The detection of the binary neutron star (BNS) merger GW170817 and the associated electromagnetic (EM) counterpart, the 'kilonova' (kN) AT2017gfo, opened a new era in multimessenger astronomy. However, despite many efforts, it has been proven very difficult to find additional kNe, even though LIGO/Virgo has reported at least one BNS event during their latest run, O3. The focus of this work is the exploration of the sensitivity of the adopted optical surveys searching for kNe during O3. We propose ways to optimize the choices of filters and survey depth to boost the detection efficiency for these faint and fast-evolving transients in the future. In particular, we use kN models to explore the dependence on ejecta mass, geometry, viewing angle, wavelength coverage, and source distance. We find that the kN detection efficiency has a strong viewing-angle dependence, especially for filters blueward of i-band. This loss of sensitivity can be mitigated by early, deep, observations. Efficient gri counterpart searches for kNe at ∼200 Mpc would require reaching a limiting magnitude mlim = 23 mag, to ensure good sensitivity over a wide range of the model phase-space. We conclude that kN searches during O3 were generally too shallow to detect BNS optical counterparts, even under optimistic assumptions.