Project's success spawns a new effort to study other local sky events
While many astronomical collaborations use powerful telescopes to target individual objects in the distant universe, a new project at The Ohio State University is doing something radically different: using small telescopes to study a growing portion of the nearby universe all at once.
On the left is a Sloan Digital Sky Survey archival image of a galaxy some 400 million light years away in which the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN, pronounced 'assassin') detected a bright supernova on Jan. 3, 2015. On the right is an image submitted by ASAS-SN amateur contributor Seiichiro Kiyota of the Variable Star Observers League in Japan, which confirmed the existence of the supernova.
Credit: ASAS-SN image courtesy of The Ohio State University
The strategy is paying off. At the American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting in Seattle this week, researchers reported early successes from the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN, pronounced "assassin").
Since it officially launched in May 2014, ASAS-SN has detected 89 bright supernovae and counting--more than all other professional astronomical surveys combined.
Right now, the survey consists of six 6-inch telescopes--four in Hawaii and two in Chile--and a cadre of telescopes volunteered by amateurs around the world. Two additional telescopes are set to go online early in 2015. And because the survey is capturing hundreds of other bright, local objects in addition to supernovae, Ohio State researchers are about to launch a series of spin-off projects, each geared to serve the growing interests of amateurs and professional astronomers alike.
ASAS-SN covers the nearest 500 million light years around the Milky Way Galaxy--about 1 percent of the observable universe, the edge of which is more than 46 billion light years away.
"It's natural to be interested in our local neighborhood. This is where we live, this is where the action is," said Krzysztof Stanek, professor of astronomy at Ohio State.
"ASAS-SN is the only survey to study the local universe. Our early success proves that small telescopes can do big things, and the interest we've received from the astronomical community has quickly grown to the point that we need additional projects to cover other types of detection events besides supernovae."
In particular, ASAS-SN has spotted more than 250 cataclysmic variables--stars that vary dramatically in brightness. At AAS, Ohio State doctoral student A. Bianca Danilet announced the launch of an ASAS-SN offshoot called the CV Patrol, which will track cataclysmic variable data from small telescopes online and in real time.
"This approach to looking at the nearby universe is proving successful in part because it's affordable, utilizes the efforts of highly motivated citizen scientists, and has the global reach necessary to spot these events and track them. It also just may provide information about the physics of these bright and transient phenomena that far-seeing telescopes cannot," Danilet said.
Doctoral student Thomas Holoien agreed, adding that big telescopes are too sensitive to capture details of bright, nearby events. In that way, ASAS-SN complements the efforts of the big surveys. "We pick up where they leave off," he said.
Aside from cataclysmic variables, ASAS-SN has picked up two nearby tidal disruption events--extremely rare sightings of what happens when a black hole captures a portion of a nearby star--and many M dwarf flares, which are believed to emanate from stars with extremely strong magnetic fields.
Even though all these bright events happen in our local neighborhood, nobody is sure exactly how often they occur, said Christopher Kochanek, professor of astronomy at Ohio State and the Ohio Eminent Scholar in Observational Cosmology. ASAS-SN gives astronomers a chance to learn more about these events by seeing them up close.
Because ASAS-SN discoveries are made public online (at http://www.
This work is primarily funded by the National Science Foundation and Center for Cosmology and Astro Particle Physics at Ohio State. Holoien is funded by the Department of Energy Computational Science Graduate Fellowship. Additional support came from the Mt. Cuba Astronomical Foundation and a private donation from retired Homewood Corp. CEO George Skestos. ASAS-SN telescopes are hosted by the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope Network.
Contacts: Krzysztof Stanek, (614) 292-3433; Stanek.firstname.lastname@example.org
Christopher Kochanek, (614) 292-5954; Kochanek.email@example.com
Written by Pam Frost Gorder, (614) 292-9475; Gorder.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pam Frost Gorder | EurekAlert!
Climate cycles may explain how running water carved Mars' surface features
02.12.2016 | Penn State
What do Netflix, Google and planetary systems have in common?
02.12.2016 | University of Toronto
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy