Astronomy and Astrophysics, volume 459, 465-475 (2006/11-4)
The CFHTLS real time analysis system: ``optically selected GRB afterglows''. Overview and performance.
MALACRINO F., ATTEIA J.-L., BOEER M., KLOTZ A., VEILLET C., CUILLANDRE J.-C. (The GRB-RTAS Collaboration)
Abstract (from CDS):
We describe a deep and wide search for optical GRB afterglows in images taken with MegaCAM at the Canada France Hawaii Telescope, within the framework of the CFHT Legacy Survey. This search is performed in near real-time thanks to a Real Time Analysis System (RTAS) called ``Optically Selected GRB Afterglows'', which has been installed on a dedicated computer in Hawaii. This pipeline automatically and quickly analyzes Megacam images to construct catalogs of astronomical objects, and compares catalogs made from images taken at different epochs to produce a list of astrometrically and photometrically variable objects. These objects are then displayed on a web page to be characterized by a member of the collaboration. In this paper, we comprehensively describe the RTAS process from image acquisition to the final characterization of variable sources. We present statistical results based on one full year of operation, showing the quality of the images and the performance of the RTAS. The limiting magnitude of our search is r'=22.5 on average and the observed area amounts to 1178 square degrees. We have detected about 13x106 astronomical sources of which about 0.01% are found to vary by more than one tenth of a magnitude. We discuss the performance of our instrumental setup with a sample of simulated afterglows. This sample allows us to compare the efficiency of our search with previous works, to propose an optimal observational strategy, and to discuss general considerations on the searches for GRB optical afterglows. We postpone to a forthcoming paper the discussion of the characterization of variable objects we have found, and a more detailled analysis of the nature of those resembling GRB afterglows. The RTAS has been continuously operating since November 2004. Each month 15-30 square degrees are observed many times over a period of 2-3 nights. The real-time analysis of the data has revealed no convincing afterglow candidate so far.