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Rapid Spectroscopy of Elusive Transients and Young Supernovae

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Principal Investigator: Mansi Kasliwal, Carnegie Institution of Washington

Program Summary:

The intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF) is systematically exploring the optical transient sky. We focus on short timescales to optimize the survey discovery rate of very young supernovae and rare ephemeral transients. Building on the PTF legacy, our new iPTF software pipeline is geared towards automated alerts for follow-up within hours of discovery. Rapid response spectroscopy of iPTF transients will unveil (i) progenitors of supernovae: shock cooling, companion, circumstellar material properties, (ii) origin of recently discovered but poorly understood new classes of gap transients, and (iii) redshifts of relativistic afterglows discovered in seventy square degree searches or even independent of a high energy trigger. These unique physical insights into the nature of the explosion cannot be gained from late-time observations. Hence, we will undertake a dedicated iPTF-Gemini program for rapid spectroscopy. The rapid Gemini data will be complemented with panchromatic observations: radio with JVLA and CARMA, UV/X-ray with the Swift satellite and long-term optical/near-IR studies with Palomar/Magellan/Keck.

Figure 1. Gemini Observatory’s queue observing mode and quick response to Target Of Opportunity (ToO) triggers facilitates the early observation of young supernova.

Figure 2. The iPTF team.


  • Yi Cao, Caltech Astronomy
  • Shri Kulkarni, Caltech Astronomy
  • Marten van Kerkwijk, University of Toronto
  • Avishay Gal-Yam, Weizmann Institution for Science
  • Jeffrey Cooke, Swinburne University of Technology
  • Ofer Yaron, Weizmann Institution for Science
  • Eran Ofek, Weizmann Institution for Science
  • Ariel Goobar, Oskar Klein Center, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Jesper Sollerman, Oskar Klein Center, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Rahman Amanullah, Oskar Klein Center, Stockholm, Sweden
  • Bradley Cenko, NASA/GSFC
  • Robert Quimby, IPMU, Japan
  • Stephanie Bernard, University of Melbourne
  • Tyler Pritchard, Swinburne University of Technology
  • Assaf Horesh, Weizmann Insitution for Science
  • Iair Arcavi, LCOGT
  • Stefano Valenti, LCOGT
  • Andy Howell, LCOGT/UCSB
  • Leo Singer, Caltech (Physics, Maths and Astronomy)
  • Przemek Wozniak, LANL
  • Tom Vestrand, LANL