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Today's Colloquium: Booms, Burps & Bangs: The Dynamic Universe

Submitter: Shri Kulkarni (Caltech)
Description: That occasionally new sources ("Stella Nova") would pop up in the heavens was noted more than a thousand years ago. The earnest study of cosmic explosions began in earnest less than a hundred years ago. Over time astronomers have come to appreciate the central role of supernovae in synthesizing new elements (and making life as we know possible).

The Palomar Transient Factory (PTF), an innovative 2-telescope system, was designed to explicitly to chart the transient sky with a particular focus on events which lie in the nova-supernova gap. PTF can find an extragalactic transient every 20 minutes and a Galactic (strong) variable every 10 minutes. The results so far: classification of 2000 supernovae, identification of an emerging class of ultra-luminous supernovae, the earliest discovery of a Ia supernovae, discovery of luminous red novae, the most comprehensive UV spectroscopy of Ia supernovae, discovery low energy budget supernovae, clarification of sub-classes of core collapse and thermo-nuclear explosions, mapping of the systematics of core collapse supernovae, identification of a trove of eclipsing binaries and the curious AM CVns.

Image: An areal view of the Palomar Observatory (California). The discovery engine is the 48-inch telescope (extreme left) and the photometric classification is done at the 60-inch telescope (extreme right). Spectral classification is undertaken at the 200-inch telescope (center). The very first synoptic survey undertaken with a wide field Schmidt telescope was F. Zwicky's 18-inch and is the small
dome to the right of the 200-inch.
Copyright: S. R. Kulkarni, Palomar Observatory
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