Towards a BRICS Optical Transient Network (BRICS-OTN)
This paper is based on a proposal submitted for a BRICS astronomy flagship program, which was presented at the 2019 meeting of the BRICS Astronomy Working Group, held in Rio de Janeiro from 29 September to 2 October 2019. The future prospects for the detection and study of transient phenomena in the Universe heralds a new era in time domain astronomy. The case is presented for a dedicated BRICS-wide flagship program to develop a network of ground-based optical telescopes for an all-sky survey to detect short lived optical transients and to allow follow-up of multi-wavelength and multi-messenger transient objects. This will leverage existing and planned new facilities within the BRICS countries and will also draw on the opportunities presented by other multi-wavelength space- and ground-based facilities that exist within the BRICS group. The proposed optical network would initially perform followup observations on new transients using existing telescopes. This would later expand to include a new global network of \sim70 wide-field 1-m telescopes which will cover the entire sky, simultaneously, with a cadence of less than a few hours. This realization would represent a ground-breaking and unique global capability, presenting many scientific opportunities and associated spin-off benefits to all BRICS countries.