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The Bridged Gap: Transients in the Local Universe

Colloquium: Astronomy Colloquia | May 9 | 4-5 p.m. | 1 LeConte Hall


Mansi Kasilwal, CIS

Department of Astronomy


The advent of wide-field synoptic imaging has re-invigorated the venerable field of time domain astronomy. Our framework of cosmic explosions no longer has a wide six-magnitude luminosity "gap" between the brightest novae and faintest supernovae. Multiple new and distinct classes of very rare explosions have been uncovered just in the past few years. I review the surge of excitement (and debate) on the physics of these transients with unprecedented explosion signatures. "Gap transients" represent missing pieces in two fundamental pictures: the fate of massive stars and the evolution of compact binaries. Calcium-rich gap transients may even hold the key to solving a long standing abundance problem in the intra-cluster medium. I conclude with the next frontier in gap transients --- discovering elusive binary neutron star mergers, a goal which may soon be within reach with coordination between the next generation of synoptic surveys and advanced gravitational wave interferometers.


rhelgens@astro.berkeley.edu, 510-642-5275