Division D WG Supernovae — Functional


In recent years the study of supernovae (SNe) is undergoing an exponential expansion. The number of events discovered per year has grown from tens to hundreds and now thousands, and with wide-field surveys already operating or under development, such as DES, ZTF and LSST, these numbers will go up by orders of magnitude.

SN observations have also expanded, with traditional studies in visible light now regularly augmented by data across the electromagnetic spectrum, from radio and mm-wave, through mid- and near-IR, optical and UV and up to X-rays and gamma-rays. Excitingly, SNe, which already played a pioneering role as cosmic sources of neutrinos (SN 1987A) are also among the possible first sources for the new generation of non-electromagnetic astronomy detectors, e.g., gravitational-wave telescopes or high-energy neutrino detectors.

This increase in SN discovery rate and methods of study has led to broadening and deepening of our knowledge of SNe. While Type Ia SNe are still used as cosmological lighthouses, we are now facing an increased diversity in the known classes of SNe, including extreme and exotic events such as super-luminous SNe and faint “gap transients” residing in the range of luminosity and timescale between standard SNe and classical novae.

Faced by these developments, the SN research community identified three subjects that a SN working group under division D will undertake to help our community make additional progress.

  1. With the large number of new SNe detected each year, the way SNe are catalogued and designated had to be revised, so that large numbers of events could be assigned standard, community-wide SN names and rapidly reported to interested members. An initial goal for the working group was to propose and implement a new, automated machinery to deal with astronomical transients (and SNe in particular). The new Transient Name server (https://wis-tns.weizmann.ac.il/) has now been set up and replaced the previous manual name assignment system, while maintaining the same high standards of fidelity.
  2. With many new SN classes identified in recent years, the group intends to initiate a discussion about SN classification, and investigate whether a new classification scheme (based on the current one, or differing from it) should be adopted. A minimal goal is to standardize the way certain SN subclasses are referred to in the literature.
  3. With the explosion of digital data, we will work to further encourage and develop SN databases that will help preserve, share and improve SN data, starting with existing databases and working to generalize and improve these. A broadly used database is WISeREP (https://wiserep.weizmann.ac.il/).

The supernova field is one of the few areas in astronomy (and actually in all branches of science) where amateur astronomers continue to make important and unique contributions. We will work to maintain and improve the accessibility of reporting and distribution mechanisms to amateurs and interested members of the public. Rapid and broad distribution of information will also allow for wide and coordinated campaigns to follow bright events (for example, the next Galactic SN). In several community gatherings in recent years these goals have been discussed and received general endorsement.

Working Group Web Page

Working Group Members (41)


Division D High Energy Phenomena and Fundamental Physics

Avishay Gal-Yam

Weizmann Institute of Science
Department of Particle Physics and Astrophysics
1 Herzl St.
Rehovot 76100

Phone: +972 08-9342063
Email: avishaygal-yamweizmannacil
Personal website: http://www.weizmann.ac.il/home/galyam/

Last updated:
February 16, 2016

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