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“Chalk Talk” Astronomy Seminar – Curtis McCully

February 6, 2018 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm

UNC-CH “Chalk Talk” Astronomy┬áSeminar

Curtis McCully, Les Cumbres Observatory

“Transients in Time Domain Astronomy: Supernovae, Kilonovae, and Gravitational Lensing”

The future is bright for transient science as we continue into the era of time-domain astronomy. The LIGO/Virgo gravitational wave detectors are currently preparing for their third observing run which should produce between one and forty binary neutron star merger candidates per year. LCO remains uniquely capable of scaling to this number of targets, so I plan to use my access to LCO to search for optical counterparts of gravitational wave triggers. Spectroscopic observations from larger telescopes like SOAR and SALT will be invaluable as we begin to characterize this new class of explosive transients. I am one of the builders of the Global Supernova Project which is building a sample of hundreds of nearby supernovae over the next three years. The data we have now are already enough for a variety of student projects on supernova physics, but access to high resolution spectra from larger telescopes like SALT or nebular spectra from SOAR will complement the data from the smaller LCO telescopes and greatly enhance this dataset One potential internal collaboration would be with Evryscope that could collect high cadence observations of young supernovae while LCO provided less densely sampled color information that can be combined to probe shock breakout for massive star supernovae and the nature of the companion star for thermonuclear white dwarf supernovae. With LSST on the horizon we will have the opportunity to find exotic explosive transients like gravitationally lensed supernovae. For these searches to be successful, there are several projects that need to be done in preparation like running realistic microlensing simulations for lensed supernovae, developing techniques for finding lensed supernovae in the LSST data stream, and characterizing the performance for measuring time delays for a given LSST cadence. As these future surveys begin, we will be able to reap the benefits of these early projects, combining all of these different probes of cosmology which will provide key constraints on the nature of dark matter and dark energy.


February 6, 2018
2:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Event Category:


Chapman Hall 435