NOAO >   Observing Info >   Approved Programs >   2010A-0053

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Proposal Information for 2010A-0053


PI: Avishay Gal-Yam, Weizmann Institute of Science, avishay.gal-yam@weizmann.ac.il
Address: Department of Particle Physics and Astrophysics, 1 Herzl St., Rehovot 76100, Israel

CoI: Douglas Leonard, San Diego State University
CoI: Derek Fox, The Pennsylvania State University

Title: Identifying progenitors of core-collapse supernovae

Abstract: Observations of massive stars - before they explode - provide direct identification of SN progenitors. Such studies require the combination of a deep, high-resolution image of the SN location, serendipitously obtained before it exploded, with a precise localization of the SN (after it exploded) to enable us to select the correct progenitor from among the stars in the pre-explosion SN images. After decades of effort, only nine SN progenitors have so far been detected (6 during the last 5 years). About twice a year a nearby SN is discovered in an area previously observed by HST. The few recent identifications were mainly based on repeat HST post-explosion imaging for this purpose. A better alternative for SN localization is now provided by laser-guide-star assisted adaptive optics systems (LGS-AO), as we have initially demonstrated using the Keck LGS system. Here, we propose to continue our successful program (2006-2009) to use NIRI+ALTAIR in LGS mode to localize nearby SNe and identify their progenitors. A minimal Gemini allocation (1 hour) leveraged by superb archival HST data will provide exciting results. With each additional progenitor identified and studied, we move closer to a robust mapping of specific progenitors to each SN class, a key to understanding the physics of these powerful cosmic explosions.


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