PI: Sjoert van Velzen, Johns Hopkins U.,
Address: Center for Astrophysical Studies, 3400 N. Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218 USA
CoI: Thomas Weevers, Radboud University
CoI: Peter Jonker, Radboud University
CoI: Armin Rest, STScI
CoI: Simon T Hodgkin, University of Cambridge
CoI: David O Jones, Johns Hopkins U.
CoI: Morgan Fraser, University of Cambridge
Title: Spectroscopic follow-up of stellar tidal disruption flares discovered by Gaia
Abstract: The Gaia satellite is currently performing an unbiased, magnitude- limited survey of the transient sky. The key advantages of Gaia over other transient surveys are its high angular resolution ($\sim$10 mas), accurate photometry and simultaneous low-resolution spectroscopy. We are currently using Gaia's capabilities to efficiently discriminate the rare stellar tidal disruption flares (TDFs) from much more frequent supernovae. The key is Gaia's angular resolution, implying that the rate of nuclear SNe is similar to the rate of TDFs (Fig 1). We aim to obtain spectroscopic follow-up observations of every nuclear transient found by Gaia. The proposed observations will yield the first a sizable, unbiased sample of TDFs. This sample will allow us to address numerous open questions in the relatively young field of TDFs. Most importantly, our sample can be used to finally understand where and how the optical emission of TDFs is produced. In addition, we will provide a census of SNe from the heart of galaxies; we might uncover a new type of stellar explosion that is exclusive to galactic nuclei.
Program Type: Standard/Extragalactic
Run 1 (2015B): KP-4m/KOSMOS -- 2n on Sep 16 - Sep 17 2015
National Optical Astronomy Observatory, 950 North Cherry Avenue, P.O. Box 26732, Tucson, Arizona 85726, Phone: (520) 318-8000, Fax: (520) 318-8360