Physics Colloquium: “The Time Domain Boom” with Dr. David Sand, Texas Tech University
We live in an exciting period for time domain astrophysics, with great strides being made scientifically and ambitious surveys on the horizon.
First, Dr. Sand will discuss the Multi-Epoch Nearby Cluster Survey (MENeaCS), a long term program aimed at characterizing the supernova (SN) properties in low redshift galaxy clusters. The principle goals of MENeaCS are 1) to measure the intracluster stellar mass fraction in clusters through detection of supernovae with no apparent host galaxy and 2) constraining the progenitors of type Ia supernovae via a measurement of their delay time distribution – the distribution in time between the formation of a stellar system and when their constituents go off as type Ia’s. Understanding the progenitor(s) of type Ia SNe in particular is essential for beating down the systematic uncertainties in future dark energy surveys.
Taking a slight step back, he will then discuss FLOYDS, a pair of low dispersion robotic spectrographs recently deployed at the 2 meter Faulkes telescopes in Australia and Hawaii. The main purpose of FLOYDS is to broaden the scope of spectroscopic observations in the time domain beyond what is possible with classically scheduled telescopes – whether it be rapid follow-up of transients or long-term monitoring campaigns. In the era of large time domain surveys, such as Pan-STARRS and LSST, robotic followup spectroscopy will play a critical role, and Dr. Sand will discuss his medium term plans for this unique facility.