Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
"Transient Astronomy and the Violent Deaths of Stars"
Abstract: The advent of systematic time-domain astronomical surveys is opening a new window of discovery to the universe. I will describe a few exciting recent results using astronomical transients discovered with the current Pan-STARRS1 survey. We have been finding some of the most luminous and distant supernovae in the universe and using them as probes of both the extreme deaths of massive stars and of their star-forming host galaxies. We have also identified the first two examples of optical transients with complete light curves associated with the tidal disruptions of stars and subsequent accretion of the debris by supermassive black holes. I will describe the relationship between our observations and the theoretical predictions in this emerging field. I will also discuss the implications of our work for future surveys, such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), which will commence operations in a decade.