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Science & Motivation

AMON will exploit the potential synergies inherent in studying cosmic sources via the electromagnetic, gravitational wave, high-energy neutrino and cosmic ray channels. Among cosmic sources expected to emit in two or more such channels are active galactic nuclei (AGNs), gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), supernovae (SNe), white dwarves (WDs), and neutron stars (NSs). AMON will be the first real-time coincident sub-threshold multi-messenger burst alert system that incorporates data from gamma-ray and TeV gamma-ray, gravitational wave and high-energy neutrino facilities.

neutron starThis will be built in anticipation of the expected near-term "first source" detections in the gravitational wave (GW) and high energy neutrino (HEN) channels, which are likely to be transient. For this, it is vital to have communication channels in place prior to the first such detection, which will enable automated responses to the first burst alerts from other facilities, including electromagnetic (EM) ones.

Between the commissioning of these facilities and their first detections, the joint analysis of sub-threshold burst alerts from multiple facilities offers the unique prospect of provoking a first detection in one or multiple channels. This is because whereas a single facility may only be capable on its own of claiming a detection above some nominal confidence level, in combination two or more sub-threshold signals may easily achieve that same level of confidence. The ability to trigger on sub-threshold events - for example, temporally and spatially proximate doublet high energy neutrino events in IceCube (http://icecube.wisc.edu/)- effectively increases the sensitivity and the rate of burst detections. This will be most effective when combined with systematic electromagnetic follow-ups, whose potential payoff is high.

supernovaeThe full potential to illuminate questions of fundamental physics will depend largely on having also identified EM counterparts to provide distance/redshift measurements and independent insights using well-developed tools of astrophysics. Follow-up protocols will be built elaborating on examples such as the SNEWS system (http://snews.bnl.gov/). Facilities that could be used are ROTSE, HAT, P60, PTF, Gemini, etc. and the alerts would be openly disseminated to the community via internet GCN notices or Atels.

Note also that bursts that are bright in the EM spectrum but not detectable in the other windows would yield important constraints on models by providing upper limits on those other channels.