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Gravitational Wave-Electromagnetic Counterpart Task Force (GW-EM TF)

On 17 December 2019, the Gravitational Wave-Electromagnetic Counterpart Task Force (GW-EM TF) released its final report [PDF].

NASA HQ Astrophysics Division created the GW-EM TF to assess NASA's role in Gravitational Wave Electromagnetic Counterpart (GW-EM) astrophysics, particularly EM observations of LIGO sources, and the optimization thereof for present and planned missions.

The Task Force leveraged off the work of the Multi-Messenger Astrophysics Science Analysis Group (MMA SAG). While the MMA SAG looks at science goals achievable in the next decade and more, the GW-EM TF is nearer-term, focusing specifically on NASA's role in the EM prompt and follow-up observations of events detected by LIGO and the future LIGO A+.

Tasks of the Task Force

The NASA GW-EM Task Force was tasked with the following specific activities:

  1. For the currently operating NASA missions, assess:
    1. Their current contributions, or potential for contributions, to GW-EM Astrophysics
    2. Obstacles and barriers that need to be addressed for their optimal use including Mission operations, observations, data access, analysis, and interpretation of the data
    3. Existing gaps in either/both present and planned facilities and operations
  2. For present and future operations, identify:
    1. A protocol to optimize the use of NASA's capabilities in EM followups of LIGO and LIGO A+ sources
    2. How this protocol might change over time as more GW events are found and extensive campaigns on individual mergers are replaced by studies of merger populations
  3. Identify top-level needed capabilities for the distant (>10 yrs) future, in light of anticipated GW-EM science drivers and present and future NASA missions.
  4. Identify specific actions to explore the feasibility of such capabilities (e.g., forming study teams).
  5. Identify near- and long-term practices NASA should adopt to optimize GW-EM return from its missions (e.g., R&A, archives format, etc.). Address ways to improve or increase interagency collaboration between NASA and NSF.

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