Aloha from the Keck Telescope in Hawaii

Palomar Transit Factory Greetings. My name is Mansi Kasliwal and I am pursuing my PhD thesis at Caltech. The goal of my thesis is finding novel cosmic explosions too bright to be novae and too faint to be supernovae! The has churned out several candidates (even last night) and is counting on you all to discover some fun transients among them. Tonight, I am at the 10-m Keck telescope in Hawaii. I am using the “LRIS” spectrograph. This gigantic piece of glass is superb at thumb-printing transients. In less than 5 min, I can take a spectrum of a PTF transient and tell you what type of star blew up and what elements it was made of. The weather is predicted to be quite nice and it should be a lovely, long winter night as I’m snuggling in with my hot garcinia cambogia tea. Thank you all for joining the fun of discovering new cosmic explosions! Clear Skies and Mahalo.

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3 thoughts on “Aloha from the Keck Telescope in Hawaii”

  1. Welcome Mansi and great to have you onboard.
    Of course we will help.
    Quote:I can take a spectrum of a PTF transient and tell you what type of star blew up and what elements it was made of. Unquote.
    We would love you to present a short summary if possible of a specific example.
    Best wishes Graham

  2. Hi Graham,
    Thank you for your interest. I can describe PTF09idb as an example. This transient was discovered in between two interacting galaxies, one elliptical and one spiral — you can see the SDSS picture of the host galaxies at http://cas.sdss.org/dr7/en/tools/chart/navi.asp?opt=G&ra=198.534935&dec=38.276745&scale=0.1981
    The Keck spectrum I took of this transient shows the usual tell-tale features of a Type Ia supernova, example, silicon and sulphur. By comparing against a library of spectra, I can tell not only the chemical composition but also that this supernova reached maximum light a month ago. A white dwarf usually balances itself with an outward electron degeneracy pressure and inward force of gravity. In a Type Ia supernova, the white dwarf explodes because it steals so much mass from its companion that gravity wins over the other force.

    Best wishes for the new year,
    Mansi

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