Prompt Detection of Fast Optical Bursts with the Vera C. Rubin Observatory

Kavli Affiliate: Steven M. Kahn

| First 5 Authors: Guillem Megias Homar, Joshua E. Meyers, Steven M. Kahn, ,

| Summary:

The transient optical sky has remained largely unexplored on very short
timescales. While there have been some experiments searching for optical
transients from minutes to years, none have had the capability to distinguish
millisecond Fast Optical Bursts (FOB). Such very fast transients could be the
optical counterparts of Fast Radio Bursts (FRB), the prompt emission from
$gamma$-Ray Bursts (GRB), or other previously unknown phenomena. Here, we
investigate a novel approach to the serendipitous detection of FOBs, which
relies on searching for anomalous spatial images. In particular, due to their
short duration, the seeing distorted images of FOBs should look
characteristically different than those of steady sources in a standard optical
exposure of finite duration. We apply this idea to simulated observations with
the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, produced by tracing individual photons through a
turbulent atmosphere, and down through the optics and camera of the Rubin
telescope. We compare these simulated images to steady-source star simulations
in 15 s integrations, the nominal Rubin exposure time. We report the
classification accuracy results of a Neural Network classifier for
distinguishing FOBs from steady sources. From this classifier, we derive
constraints in duration-intensity parameter space for unambiguously identifying
FOBs in Rubin observations. We conclude with estimates of the total number of
detections of FOB counterparts to FRBs expected during the 10-year Rubin Legacy
Survey of Space and Time (LSST).

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