Friday, June 24, 2011

Supernovae Conference Day 3

the results presented at day 3 of the supernovae and their host galaxies were largely based on the highly productive Palomar Transient Factory (PTF), which is "a fully-automated, wide-field survey aimed at a systematic exploration of the optical transient sky." transients are objects that appear and disappear and can range from supernovae to asteroids to gamma ray bursts to comets, etc...

things i learned from today's speakers:

  • about 6000 supernovae have been identified ever by humans.
  • newly decorated PhD Mansi Kasliwal stated that the palomar transit factory (PTF) has identified 1178 extragalactic transits!
  • the PTF looks primarily for supernovae, but finds 50,000 asteroids every night!!
  • over the last few years, about 300 supernovae per year have been found (as reported by the International Astronomical Union).   the bad astronomer, phil plait, responded to my tweet of this fact to add some perspective:  "To give you an idea of how much better we are at finding SNe now: in 1987, the first one seen was in late February."
  • PTF has found 15 supernovae with very faint, very far (~100 kpc), or non-existent galaxy hosts!?! mysterious!
  • Robert Quimby talked about some (unexpectedly) extremely bright supernovae he has discovered.   many people at the conference are referring to this new class of super-luminous supernovae as "the quimbies" which i think is a great name! 

one example of these objects is supernova 2006gy, which reached 10x brighter than a typical type Ia SN and lasted for 5 months!  and for some strange reason, the quimbies seem to prefer dwarf galaxy environments.   below are 4 examples of quimbies as seen by the PTF.  the left images show the regions before, and the right show the regions just after the supernova explosions!

PTF09atu, PTF09cnd, PTF09cwl, and PTFcwr. Credit: Robert Quimby/Caltech/Nature

to read about more about these exotic supernovae, astronomy now has a nice interview with quimby that you can read/listen to here.

intro to the conference: here
summary of day 1: here
summary of day 2: here


heroineworshipper said...

6000 Jesuses have been born.

Big Mark 243 said...

Looks like I was not the only one who saw and felt the spiritual significance here...

The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) is Australia's national science agency

... but I know you knew that already..!

Pete said...


Friends in the know report that similar tech to the PTF is likely used to spot spy satellites (or milsats).

Apparently a adaptive optics were first used to get detailed photos and images of milsats about 20 years before use in mainstream astronomy.