Observational constraints on the optical and near-infrared emission from the neutron star-black hole binary merger S190814bv
On 2019 August 14, the LIGO and Virgo interferometers detected a high-significance event labelled S190814bv, likely due to the merger of a compact binary system formed by a BH and a NS. In this paper, we present our extensive search campaign aimed at uncovering the potential optical/near infrared electromagnetic counterpart of S190814bv. We found no convincing electromagnetic counterpart in our data. ElectromagNetic counterparts of GRAvitational wave sources at the VEry Large Telescope (ENGRAVE) collaboration members carried out an intensive multi-epoch, multi-instrument observational campaign to identify the possible optical/near infrared counterpart of the event. In addition, the ATLAS, GOTO, GRAWITA-VST, Pan-STARRS and VINROUGE projects also carried out a search on this event. In this paper, we describe the combined observational campaign of these groups. The typical depth of our wide-field observations, which cover most of the projected sky localisation probability (from 33% to 99.8%, depending on the night and filter considered), is r~22 (resp. K~21) in the optical (resp. near infrared). We reach deeper limits in a subset of our galaxy-targeted observations, which cover a total ~50% of the galaxy-mass-weighted localisation probability. Altogether, our observations allow us to exclude a KN with large ejecta mass M>0.1 M$_\odot$ to a high ($>$90%) confidence, and we place meaningful limits on a larger portion of the ejecta mass parameter space. This disfavours the tidal disruption of the neutron star during the merger. Given the distance of S190814bv we could not reach sufficiently deep limits to constrain a KN comparable in luminosity to AT2017gfo on a large fraction of the local localisation probability. This suggests that future (likely common) events at a few hundreds Mpc will be detected only by large facilities with both high sensitivity and large field of view.