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Towards An Integrated Optical Transient Utility

Kulkarni, S. R. (2020) Towards An Integrated Optical Transient Utility. . (Unpublished)

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The ongoing optical time-domain astronomy surveys are routinely reporting fifty transient candidates per night. Here, I investigate the demographics of astronomical transients and supernova classifications reported to the Transient Name Server in the year 2019. I find that only a tenth of the transients were spectrally classified. This severe "bottleneck" problem should concern astronomers and also funding agencies. The bottleneck will get worse by a factor of 20 (or more) once LSST comes on line. We need to fundamentally rethink the purpose of surveys for transients. Here, after undertaking a detailed investigation of this issue I offer some solutions. Going forward, astronomers will employ two different methodologies: (1) multi-band photometric method which is well suited to the study of very large, many tens of thousands, samples of faint transients; (2) spectral classifications of thousands of bright transients found in shallow and nightly cadenced wide-field photometry surveys and transients associated with galaxies in the local Universe. The latter program, in addition to unearthing new types of transients and offering astronomers opportunities to undertake extensive follow up of interesting transients, is needed to set the stage for the former. Specifically, I suggest a globally coordinated effort to spectrally classify a complete sample of bright supernovae (< ~19.5 mag) and transients within the local Universe (< 200 Mpc) The proposed program is within reach -- thanks to the on-going wide-field surveys, the development of novel spectrographs tuned for classification, great improvements in throughput of spectrographs and the increasing availability of robotic telescopes.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Discussion Paper)
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URLURL TypeDescription Paper
Kulkarni, S. R.0000-0001-5390-8563
Additional Information:The principal survey that the Rubin Observatory will carry out is the Legacy Survey of Space and Time Survey or LSST. This paper formed the basis of a talk I gave at the IAU-Kavli meeting "Transients 2020" (Capetown, February 3-8, 2020). As usual I am grateful to librarians and curators who maintain the databases that modern astronomy relies heavily. For this paper I single out ADS and TNS. I am most grateful to Ofer Yaron for providing insight into TNS; Evan Kirby, PI for NGPS, for discussions on throughputs of various spectrometers; and Christoffer Fremling for supplying me estimated annual SN discovery rates. I thank Jesper Sollerman, Anna Ho, Steve Schulze and Mickael Rigault for careful reading. Finally, I am grateful to the following for discussion or critical feedback or both: Ilaria Caiazzo, Richard Dekany, Avishay Gal-Yam, Paul Groot, Matthew Graham, Thomas Matheson, Jakob Nordin, Eran Ofek, Daniel Perley, Robert Quimby, Armin Rest, Stephen Smartt and Jason Spyromilio. SRK thanks the Heising-Simons Foundation for supporting his research in time domain astronomy.
Group:Astronomy Department
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Heising-Simons FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:instrumentation: photometric and spectrographs - surveys - supernovae: general - catalogs
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200414-093156733
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:102525
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:14 Apr 2020 17:00
Last Modified:14 Apr 2020 17:00

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