Alicia Soderberg, Harvard-Smithsonian CfA Institute for Theory and Computation

Topic: "A Holistic View Catastrophic Cosmic Explosions"  (Video)

ABSTRACT: Throughout history, observational supernova (SN) studies have focused almost exclusively on their strong optical emission that dominates the bolometric luminosity. Yet many of the leading breakthroughs in our understanding of SNe and their progenitor systems have been enabled by observations at other wavelengths. For example, through the combination of radio and gamma-ray observations, we now know that about 0.2 percent of all core-collapse have the ability to power relativistic gamma-ray burst jets (GRBs). In addition, with our recent serendipitous discovery of shock breakout X-ray emission from an ordinary SN, comes the observational realization of a superior discovery technique for local core-collapse SNe from which data encode the properties of the progenitor star in its last dying moments. Finally, as thermonuclear Type Ia SN studies are pushed toward higher redshift and trusted to constrain the expansion history of the Universe, the favored single-degenerate progenitor model is increasingly called into question by sensitive radio and X-ray observations that have yet to reveal any evidence for a non-degenerate companion star. Theoretical considerations suggest that progenitor mass, metallicity, angular momentum and binary interaction all play a role in the observed properties of GRBs and SNe across the electromagnetic spectrum. I will discuss a fresh approach to bridging observations and theory of cosmic explosions with an ultimate goal to shed light on the nature of their progenitors, the physics of their explosions, and a better understanding of their utility as high redshift probes.