Gravitational lensing makes it possible to see supernovae and other transients much further than we normally can. A new research proposal outlines a plan to use a complete catalog of strong gravitational lenses to capture these rare events over extraordinary distances.
Supernovae and transients
The transitions are amazing. In astronomy, a transient is any phenomenon that occurs in the sky and does not last very long. They range from classic new (nuclear explosion on a white dwarf), keel (fusion of two neutron stars), supernova (explosion of whole stars), tidal rupture events (stars burst with black holes) and more. However, these transients remain relatively mysterious. To better understand how they work, astronomers need to create a large library of transient events.
Astronomers are only now beginning to build a full understanding supernovae and other transients. This is because events are so fleeting. To catch them in action requires a happy break in observation and then a quick follow-up to study the event before it disappears.
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In addition, we are limited in our ability to see supernovae and other transients the size of our telescopes. If a supernova erupts in an extremely distant galaxy, we’re just out of luck. Then we won’t be able to see it and add it to our collection.
One way to improve our understanding of supernovae and transients to capture them in a deeper universe. But it’s hard because they’re so far away. Fortunately, astronomers have developed a trick to jump through light years, using the amazing quirks of gravity to increase their optical power.
Gravitational lensing for fun and profit
Amazing speed is gravitational lensing. A massive object bends the path of light. If everything is lined up correctly, this bend can mimic the action of a magnifying lens. So if we look at a massive object similar to a cluster of galaxies, we can see distant galaxies behind it because the cluster increases the light from these galaxies. By carefully observing observations of clusters, astronomers have been able to spot many galaxies that would otherwise be too distant for us to observe.
If supernovae or other transients occur in these extremely distant galaxies, we can capture them if some massive cluster in front of them simply irradiates it. Sometimes it even creates multiple images of the same event because different images follow different paths through the intermediate cluster.
But how to move from a happy break to a comprehensive survey program? Here is a question recently asked by the newspaper appears in a preprint of arXiv magazine. Researchers behind the article suggest creating a catalog of good candidate lens structures such as groups and clusters of galaxies. They will identify these candidates based on their ability to view objects behind them.
Then, future polls like Vera Rubin Observatory The legacy of space and time surveys can constantly monitor these promising candidates. The survey will look for the beginning of supernovae or other transients. Once identified, it can send an automated alert. Then other surveys can focus on the transition process and observe how it develops.
The authors believe that their method will be able to catch up to 80% of all supernovae that can be detected using this method, greatly improving our view of the transitional universe.