Large grant for supernova research at OKC with the iPTF

It is the Knut och Alice Wallenbergs foundation that grants a 5-year long project for finding and studying supernovae. The OKC are already since the beginning of this year members of the intermediate Palomar
Transient Factory (iPTF) – a supernova search aimed at finding supernovae soon after explosion. This is a pathfinder for the next generation of this project – the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF). The 30 million grant from KAW will now enable OKC astronomers and physicists to play a leading role in that project.

Jesper Sollerman, from the department of astronomy, is leading the application:
– Previous supernova surveys have often discovered supernovae days or weeks after explosion. We want to find them on the very first night. In this way we hope to learn more about their progenitors, the stars that actually exploded.

The deaths of massive stars is the focus for the supernova astronomers at the department of astronomy, including both observers such as Sollerman and modelers as co-applicant Claes Fransson.

The supernova group at the department of physics are more interested in thermonuclear supernovae and their use for cosmology. Co-applicant Ariel Goobar:

– We have used supernovae to make one of the most revolutionary scientific discoveries of our time: the universe is accelerating due to a yet unknown mechanism, we call it “dark energy”. ZTF will provide crucial observations to further explore the expansion history of the universe.

Supernova SN 2011dh in the whirlpoolgalaxy M51 is an example of a supernova detected early after explosion using the Palomar telescope. See also http://okc.albanova.se/blog/missing-star-supernova-2011dh/

– On the other hand, says Jesper Sollerman, the most exciting discoveries may well be things we have not yet anticipated.Opening up a new time-window for transients will surely hold many new discoveries. At the OKC we have people working also on other kind of transients, both gamma-ray bursts and compact mergers, and hopefully we will be able to find even more exotic explosive events with the Zwicky Transient Facility.

 

– Fantastic news! adds Lars Bergström, projektleader for the Oskar Klein centre.
Once again has the Wallenberg foundation supported one of our front line research projects, and today the entire centre feels very happy.

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