A Search for Fast Optical Transients in the Pan-Starrs1 Medium-Deep Survey: M Dwarf Flares, Asteroids, Limits on Extragalactic Rates, and Implications for Lsst
Leibler, C. N.
Foley, R. J.
Price, P. A.
Burgett, W. S.
Chambers, K. C.
Huber, M. E.
Magnier, E. A.
Tonry, J. L.Note: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.
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CitationBerger, E., C. N. Leibler, R. Chornock, A. Rest, R. J. Foley, A. M. Soderberg, P. A. Price, et al. 2013. A Search for Fast Optical Transients in the Pan-Starrs1 Medium-Deep Survey: M Dwarf Flares, Asteroids, Limits on Extragalactic Rates, and Implications for Lsst. The Astrophysical Journal 779, no. 1: 18. doi:10.1088/0004-637x/779/1/18.
AbstractWe present a search for fast optical transients (τ ∼ 0.5hr − 1d) using repeated observations of the PanSTARRS1 Medium-Deep Survey (PS1/MDS) fields. Our search takes advantage of the consecutive gP1rP1 observations (16.5 min in each filter), by requiring detections in both bands, with non-detections on preceding and subsequent nights. We identify 19 transients brighter than 22.5 AB mag (S/N & 10). Of these, 11 events exhibit quiescent counterparts in the deep PS1/MDS templates that we identify as M4–M9 dwarfs at d ≈ 0.2 − 1.2 kpc. The remaining 8 transients lack quiescent counterparts, exhibit mild but significant astrometric shifts between the gP1 and rP1 images, colors of (g−r)P1 ≈ 0.5−0.8 mag, non-varying light curves, and locations near the ecliptic plane with solar elongations of about 130 deg, which are all indicative of main-belt asteroids near the stationary point of their orbits. With identifications for all 19 transients, we place an upper limit of RFOT(τ ∼ 0.5hr) . 0.12 deg−2 d −1 (95% confidence level) on the sky-projected rate of extragalactic fast transients at . 22.5 mag, a factor of 30 − 50 times lower than previous limits; the limit for a timescale of ∼ day is RFOT . 2.4 × 10−3 deg−2 d−1. To convert these sky-projected rates to volumetric rates, we explore the expected peak luminosities of fast optical transients powered by various mechanisms, and find that nonrelativistic events are limited to M ≈ −10 mag (M ≈ −14 mag) for a timescale of ∼ 0.5 hr (∼ day), while relativistic sources (e.g., gamma-ray bursts, magnetar-powered transients) can reach much larger luminosities. The resulting volumetric rates are . 13 Mpc−3 yr−1 (M ≈ −10 mag), . 0.05 Mpc−3 yr−1 (M ≈ −14 mag) and. 10−6 Mpc−3 yr−1 (M ≈ −24 mag), significantly above the nova, supernova, and GRB rates, respectively, indicating that much larger surveys are required to provide meaningful constraints. Motivated by the results of our search we discuss strategies for identifying fast optical transients in the LSST main survey, and reach the optimistic conclusion that the veil of foreground contaminants can be lifted with the survey data, without the need for expensive follow-up observations.
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