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Projects participating in the electromagnetic follow up of LIGO-Virgo gravitational wave event candidates

This page is a list, provided for public information, of some of the observing teams / groups / projects which are participating in following up LIGO-Virgo gravitational wave event candidates. (Only a subset of participating groups have chosen to list their information here.)

AAO (Australian Astronomical Observatory) GW Candidate Observations

  • Observing band(s): Visible, NIR
  • Description: The Anglo-Australian Telescope is a 4m diameter telescope at Siding Spring Observatory in NSW, Australia. The AAT has a broad instrument suite, spanning low to high resolution single-object and multi-object optical spectroscopy, and near-infrared imaging and spectroscopy. In principle almost any of the AAT instrument suite could be used for EM follow up of GW events, but the AAT is most likely to be of use through providing imaging using either the 2dF Focal Plane Imager (Visible, 2'x3' FOV) or the IRIS2 instrument (NIR, 7'x7' FOV), depending on which is in use on the telescope at the time an event is announced. If an optical counterpart is identified, this may be able to be followed up spectroscopically if AAOmega or HERMES is the available instrument, with a delay of up to an hour or two to allow for counterpart confirmation and instrument fibre reconfiguration. The 2dF instrument (and its FPI) is the most popular on the AAT, feeding both AAOmega and HERMES, and this is the facility that is most commonly in use, so it provides the most likely route for follow up at any given time.
  • Current and future operational status: The AAO runs the AAT as a national facility. We have direct access to the facility and the capacity to initiate an override mode at the discretion of the Director. Instituting such a mode will require notice to be given to the Australian community of the arrangements with the LVC, and the likelihood of interruption of scheduled observations. We plan to encourage interested members of the Australian community to register their interest in participating in such a program, in order to maximise the scientific return for both our facility and our community.
  • Liaison: Chris Lidman

Astrophysics Research Institute, Liverpool John Moores University (ARI LJMU)

  • Observing band(s): Optical (ugriz, BV), infrared (HK)
  • Description: The ARI owns and operates the 2-metre fully robotic Liverpool Telescope ( sited at the ORM on the Canary island of La Palma. Instruments include the main optical infrared imaging camera IO:O, the infrared imager IO:I, the long slit R~350 spectrograph SPRAT, and the R~2000/5000 IFU fed spectrograph FRODOspec. Also mounted are smaller 'SkyCam' telescopes which co-point with the telescope for wide field imaging, yielding 9 sq. deg down to R~14, and 1 sq. deg down to R~18.
  • Current and future operational status: LT time is allocated via a number of different time allocation committees. The internal TAC controls 28 per cent of the time, and the ARI group will submit applications to that TAC for time for GW follow-up in 2015.
  • Liaison: Chris Copperwheat

AROMA (AGU Robotic Optical Monitor for Astrophysical object)

  • Observing band(s): Optical (3-color, UVBRI)
  • Description: AROMA-W has an extreme wide field of view of 30 deg x 45 deg with a limiting magnitude of 12-13 mag. AROMA-N is a 30 cm optical telescope with a narrow field of view. Both optical monitors operate remotely.
  • Current and future operational status: Operational.
  • Liaison: Takanori Sakamoto

CRTS (Catalina Real-Time Transient Survey)

  • Observing band(s): Open
  • Description: Based on Catalina Sky Survey. Observations available since 2003. Typical cadence: four images separated by ten minutes. Eight square degree field.
  • Current and future operational status: Operational. FOV expanding to 19 sq. deg. soon.
  • Liaison: Ashish Mahabal

DESGW (Dark Energy Survey Gravitational Wave followup)

  • Observing band(s): i,z
  • Description: Using the CTIO/Blanco/DECam 3 sq. deg field of view to followup LIGO gravitational wave events
  • Current and future operational status: Operational. Approved for 2016B
  • Liaison: Jim Annis


  • Observing band(s): Optical and high energy
  • Description: the purpose of FIGARO is to bring together specialist of transient astronomy of all parts of the electromagnetic spectrum and theoreticians. Our goal is to assess the association of a given source with the origin of the gravitational wave signal detected by adVirgo. For this purpose, we are requesting observation time on large facilities (in collaboration with other groups). We also have a small robotic telescope for monitoring the position error box of the gravitational wave signal before the detection and once an object has been localized.
  • Current and future operational status: Active. Several proposals (CFHT, VLT, XMM-Newton, Swift) have been submitted, other are pending the opening of the call for observations.
  • Liaison: Bruce Gendre

FRBSG (Fast Radio Burst Search Group)

  • Observing band(s): 10-88 MHz
  • Description: Will use the LWA-1 dipole array radio observatory - see
  • Current and future operational status: LWA-1 is operational, and observing time has been obtained. Other LWA stations could potentially be used in the future.
  • Liaison: Michael Kavic

Gravitational-Wave Optical Transient Observer


  • Observing band(s): VHE gamma rays
  • Description: System of five imaging atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes detecting gamma rays in the energy range from 10s of GeV? to 10s of TeV?. It is located at an altitude of 1800m in Namibia (long 16°30' E, lat 23°16' S). Further information: HESS
  • Liaisons: Gerd Pühlhofer, Fabian Schüssler, Gavin Rowell

HXMT (Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope)

  • Observing band(s): 1-15 keV, 5-30 keV, 20-250 keV
  • Description: The Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope (HXMT) is China’s first astronomical satellite. HXMT will perform a sky survey and do pointed observations in 1-250 keV. It is anticipated that in the survey a large number of X-ray sources will be detected, while with the pointed observations the multiwavelength X-ray variabilities and the broad band X-ray spectra of some bright sources can be studied in details.
  • Current and future operational status: HXMT is now in the construction of the flight models, and it will be launched in 2016.
  • Liaison: Shu-Mei Jia

INAF Collaboration

  • Observing band(s): TeV?, GeV?, X-rays, optical, infrared (HK), radio
  • Description: INAF is a national Institute capable of performing early search of EM sources of GW detections and the multi-wavelength follow-up of promising candidates by deploying a large number INAF facilities as TNG (NOT), REM, Asiago 1.8m, Loiano 1.5m, Campo Imperatore (1.1m NIR-detector, 0.9m) ,SRT, Medicina/Noto radio facilities, ASTRI as well large telescopes participated by INAF at ESO, among which major players are the VST and the VLT, as well as LBT, and the future CTA. INAF applies to obtain observational time on space facilities (XMM-Newton, Chandra, Swift).
  • Current and future operational status: INAF Collaboration has already awarded observing time on LBT as target of opportunity (ToO) mode (period: Sept.2014 – June 2015) and TNG (Sept. 2014 - Feb. 2015). Further applications for observing time have been submitted on TNG (Mar. - Aug. 2015), NOT (INAF obs time, Apr. - Sep. 2015). Time allocations should be announced on early 2015. Observing time proposals have also been submitted on space facilities (XMM-Newton and Swift) for which time allocations is planned for Dec. 2014. A key role has been given to the VST, with the investment of the Italian GTO. A specific ToO proposal has been submitted (Apr. – Sept. 2015). ESO decisions on the time allocations are expected before end of 2014.
  • Liaison: Enzo Brocato

ISDC (INTEGRAL Science Data Centre) - ESAC (European Space Astronomy Centre)

  • Observing band(s): 3keV - 100MeV
  • Description: transient hard X-ray and gamma-ray phenomena can be detected within the field of view of the INTEGRAL gamma-ray imager IBIS and the spectrometer SPI, as well as by the anticoincidence system of SPI. The ISDC provides the results from independent triggers to the community as a routine task and will closely investigate time windows coincident with possible gravitational wave triggers with dedicated effort. This activity is considered with the highest priority by the mission; the INTEGRAL Project Scientist at ESA will have the responsibility to coordinate the data exploitation.
  • Current and future operational status: INTEGRAL will be operative at least until the end of 2016 and possibly up to 2018 (for the latter, confirmation pending).
  • Liaison: Carlo Ferrigno

J-GEM (Japanese Collaboration for Gravitational-Wave Electro-Magnetic Follow-up)

  • Observing band(s): Visible, NIR
  • Description: The following telescopes and instruments are currently active for GW-EM follow-up observations. (1) Kanata telescope (1.5m optical-NIR telescope located in Japan) of Hiroshima University + an optical imager/spectrograph/polarimeter "HOWPol" and an optical-NIR imager/spectrograph/polarimeter "HONIR". (2) Kiso Schmidt telescope (1.05m optical Schmidt camera located in Japan) of Tokyo University + a wide field optical camera "KWFC" (FOV=2deg x 2deg). (3) B&C telescope (0.62m optical telescope located in New Zealand) of the University of Canterbury + an optical imager, (4) IRSF (1.4m NIR telescope in South Africa) of Nagoya University + a NIR three-color camera "SIRIUS". (5) MITSuME? telescopes (0.5m optical telescopes located in Japan) of NAOJ and Tokyo Institute of Technology + optical three color cameras. (6) OAO-WFC (0.9m NIR telescope located in Japan) of NAOJ + a wide field NIR camera (FOV=0.5deg x 0.5deg). (7) Nayuta telescope (2m optical-NIR telescope located in Japan) of University of Hyogo. In addition, we submitted proposals to 8.2m Subaru Telescope and Okayama 1.88m telescope for GW-EM follow-up.
  • Current and future operational status: Currently, the telescopes (1)-(7) are all under regular operation. These telescopes are owned ones, thus we can perform EM follow-up observation with these instruments any time.
  • Liaison: Michitoshi Yoshida

LIGO-Virgo EM Follow-up
  • Observing band(s): Gravitational Wave (10 Hz – 10 kHz)
  • Description: Advanced LIGO and Advanced Virgo are kilometer-scale gravitational wave detectors located at Livingston and Hanford (United States), and in Cascina (Italy). They will observe the sky as network to yield direct observations of gravitational waves. The LIGO Scientific Collaboration and the Virgo Collaboration will perform searches in near real-time for compact binary coalescences and burst signals with the goal of rapidly identifying event candidates. A prompt notice of a potential GW transient will be sent to the group of astronomers who signed an MoU? with the LVC.
  • Current and future operational status: The advanced LIGO Livingston interferometer achieved the first lock on 27 May 2014, and a full interferometer lock of nearly three hours at the end of July 2014, with sensitivity sufficient to detect neutron star binary inspiral signals to a distance of more than 20 Mpc. The LIGO Hanford interferometer has recently started the commissioning. The LIGO commissioning will continue into 2015 as the project moves towards the first science run O1, expected to start in September 2015. The installation/integration of Advanced Virgo is scheduled to be complete in fall 2015. Advanced Virgo will then join the O2 science run expected in 2016.
  • LIGO spokesperson: Gabriela Gonzalez, Virgo spokesperson: Fulvio Ricci

LOFAR-TKSP (transient key science project)

  • Observing band(s): Radio observations: 30-80 MHz (Low band array; LBA) & 120-240 MHz (High band array; HBA)
  • Description: Imaging mode field of view depends on observing frequency and employed stations: When using only the radio antennae in the Netherlands the image size of the LBA system lies between 3-15 sq degrees; the image size for the HBA system lies in between 1.8-3.5 sq-degrees.
  • Current and future operational status: The International LOFAR Telescope is operational; see

MAGIC (Major Atmospheric Gamma-ray Imaging Cherenkov telescopes)

  • Observing band(s): VHE gamma-rays 50 GeV? < E < ~ 10 TeV?
  • Description: system of two Atmospheric Imaging Cherenkov Telescopes (17m diameter) located at 2200 m above see level in the Canary Island of La Palma.
  • Current and future operational status: fully operational. ToO proposal to observe follow-ups provided by EM partners, triggered by LIGO-Virgo alerts. Observing time granted to test the procedure.
  • Liaison: Razmik Mirzoyan

MASTER Global Robotic Net (follow up support for alerts)

  • Observing band(s): optical observations (BVRI filters, polarimetry, unfiltered)
  • Description: MASTER is universal follow-up/alert and survey telescope. 7 identical observatories: FOW 8 square degrees up to 20-21 (180s exp.), 800sq.deg. (12m 1s exposition), pointing to alerts: 10 degrees per second
  • Current and future operational status: MASTER is fully operational, reduction is on-line, the answer to alerts is on-line
  • Liaison: [[][Vladimir Lipunov]

MWA (Murchison Widefield Array)

  • Observing band(s): 80-300 MHz
  • Description: Synthesis imaging with field of view 600 deg^2 at 150 MHz and 2 arcmin resolution (both scale with frequency).
  • Current and future operational status: Online. Archival and ToO operations (~4s response time to automated triggers). See:
  • Liaison: David Kaplan

RoboPol robotic polarization monitoring

  • Observing band(s): optical polarization in R and I
  • Description: Polarimeter at 1.3m telescope in Crete (Greece), FOV 13'x13', simultaneous measurement of Q,U,I Stokes parameters
  • Current and future operational status: Confirmed operation - 4 nights per week, April to November of 2015
  • Liaisons: Dmitry Blinov, Oliver King

SkyMapper telescope

  • Observing band(s): Optical
  • Description: The SkyMapper telescope, located at the Siding Spring Observatory in Australia, is a 1.3m robotic telescope with a 5.7 square degree field of view. While its main task is to carry out the Southern Sky Survey (SSS), a significant component of the SkyMapper science program involves studies of stellar explosions and other optical transient phenomena. GW triggers will override any other observations by SkyMapper.
  • Current and future operational status: Fully operational.
  • Liaisons: Christian Wolf and Anais Moller


  • Observing band(s): Wide-field hard X-ray (15-300 keV), narrow-field soft X-ray (0.3-10 keV) and UV/optical (170-600 nm)
  • Description: Swift is a NASA satellite in a 90 minute low-Earth orbit. The satellite includes 3 instruments: a wide-field (1.4 sr) coded mask hard X-ray imager (BAT), which was designed to detect and localize gamma-ray bursts (and could therefore jointly detect a short GRB with aLIGO), and narrow-field X-ray (XRT) and UV/Optical (UVOT) telescopes that can rapidly (~ 100 s) repoint to search for longer wavelength counterparts.
  • Current and future operational status: Swift is fully operational (just celebrated the 10 year anniversary of its launch!). There are no consumables on-board, and the orbit is stable until at least 2025.
  • Liaison: Neil Gehrels

TZA (TAROT - Zadko - National Aures Observatory)

  • Observing band(s): 400 - 950 nm
  • Description: This is a network of telescope that comprises TAROT-Calern, a rapid, robotic telescope located at Mt Calern (CNRS), 1270m asl France, TAROT-Chile, 25cm, rapid robotic, 2400m asl, located at ESO La Silla Observatory, Chile, and the Zadko telescope, 1m, 40m asl, located at Gingin, UWA facility, Australia. A new set of 45cm telescope should be built at Mt. Chechar in Algeria, in the Aures Mountains, operated by a consortium of University, and networked with the other instruments around 2015. TAROT Calern and Chile have a 2° fov, while Zadko has a 30armin fov. All telescopes feature a filter wheel and have a common, linked, operating and data processing system.
  • Current and future operational status: TAROT Calern and Chile, operational,Zadko operational, National Aures Observatory: under construction.
  • Liaison: Michel Boër

USO (UBC Southern Observatory) LVC Follow-Up

  • Observing band(s): Visible, IR
  • Description: 42cm telescope at CTIO; dedicated for LVC follow-up
  • Current and future operational status: operational at start of 2015
  • Liaison: Jeremy Heyl

VAST (ASKAP Survey for Variables and Slow Transients)

  • Observing band(s): 1.4 GHz
  • Description: Australian SKA Pathfinder Telescope.
  • Current and future operational status: Currently being commissioned and is available for observations provided it isn't undergoing engineering work.
  • Liaison: Tara Murphy

VERITAS (Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System)

  • Observing band(s): VHE gamma-rays with max sensitivity in the 100 GeV? - 10 TeV? band.
  • Description: Array of four 12-m Imaging Air Cherenkov Telescopes located at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory (FLWO) in Arizona, USA (32N, 111W, 1.3 km a.s.l.). Further information:
  • Current and future operational status: Fully operational.
  • Liaison: Marcos Santander

Topic revision: 04 Sep 2017, MaricaBranchesi2
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