Nearby Supernova Factory

The Nearby Supernova Factory (SNfactory) is a collaborative experiment led by Greg Aldering, designed to collect data on more Type Ia supernovae than have ever been studied in a single project before, and by studying them, to increase understanding of the expanding universe and "Dark Energy."

The project began as an outgrowth of the Supernova Cosmology Project at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, but while the SCP focused on supernovae with redshifts of approximately 1.2, corresponding to a distance of 8.7 billion light years, SNfactory searches for nearby supernovae with redshifts of 0.03 to 0.08, corresponding to a distance of only 400 million to 1.1 billion light years.

SNfactory uses a highly automated "pipeline" in which survey images from NASA's Near-Earth Asteroid Tracking project are processed by a supercomputing cluster to find promising candidates, which are then observed using the project's Supernova Integral Field Spectrograph (SNIFS) on the University of Hawaii 88-inch (2.2 m) telescope atop Mauna Kea in Hawaii.

Results from the project will also be used in refining the planned Supernova/Acceleration Probe.

Nearby Supernova Factory

See also

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Gregory Scott Aldering

Gregory Scott Aldering (born 1960), also known simply as Greg Aldering is an American astronomer, discoverer of minor planets and supernovae, currently with the University of California, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory.As a high school student in Bridgeport, Michigan, he was an avid amateur astronomer and showed a particular aptitude for scientific studies in his studies of variable stars. Currently, his interests center on cosmology, including measurement of the cosmological parameters, the exploration of the nature of the "dark energy" and the large-scale distribution of matter in the universe. His current cosmological studies focus on the use of Type Ia supernovae as tools for determining the cosmological parameters, through his participation in the Supernova Cosmology Project. He is now the primary investigator of the Nearby Supernova Factory experiment, and is also a co-investigator on the Supernova/Acceleration Probe.While an undergraduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1979–1983), he discovered four asteroids at Kitt Peak National Observatory (695), as credited by the Minor Planet Center. He has so far classified some 266 supernovae, and is one of the co-discoverers of SN 2002bk.

The minor main-belt asteroid 26533 Aldering was named in his honor.

NGC 2857

NGC 2857 (also known as Arp 1 and PGC 26666) is a spiral galaxy in the constellation Ursa Major. It was discovered on January 9, 1856 by R. J. Mitchell.NGC 2857 is the first object in Halton Arp's Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies, and one of six Arp objects in the 'Low Surface Brightness Galaxies' section. The other five low surface brightness galaxies are Arp 2 (UGC 10310), Arp 3, Arp 4, Arp 5 (NGC 3664), and Arp 6 (NGC 2537).

NGC 819

NGC 819 is a spiral galaxy approximately 302 million light-years away from Earth in the constellation of Triangulum. It forms a visual pair with the galaxy NGC 816 5.7' WNW.

Outline of astronomy

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to astronomy:

Astronomy – studies the universe beyond Earth, including its formation and development, and the evolution, physics, chemistry, meteorology, and motion of celestial objects (such as galaxies, planets, etc.) and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth (such as the cosmic background radiation).

SN 2005gj

SN 2005gj was a supernova located approximately 864 million light years (265 million parsecs) away from Earth. It was discovered on September 29, 2005, by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and the Nearby Supernova Factory. 2005gj was noted because it had qualities of both type Ia and type IIn supernovae, and because hydrogen emission lines were found in its spectrum (see hydrogen spectral series). These hydrogen lines, which were found on the spectrum at redshift z=0.0613, are thought to be indicative of interactions with a circumstellar medium (CSM; a donut-shaped, nebula-like ring of matter around a star) by the supernova's ejected matter or white dwarf progenitor. Such emission lines are extremely rare in Type Ia supernovae – only one other Type Ia, SN 2002ic, has been observed to exhibit the same properties. However, 2005jg's CSM interaction was much stronger and more clearly observed than 2002ic's. The mass-loss history 2005gj's hydrogen lines suggest has been cited as evidence that Luminous Blue Variable (LBV) hypergiants can be progenitors of thermonuclear supernovae.2005gj was also noted for its overluminosity. With a light curve that maximised 14–47 days after the initial observation, it was three times more luminous than SN 1991T (which was, at the time of its 1991 discovery, the brightest Ia supernova on record), 1.5 times more luminous than SN 2002ic, and close to 100 times more luminous than previously thought possible. Scientists Denis Leahy and Rachid Ouyed from the University of Calgary contend that the incidence of a quark nova, a very luminous process involving the degeneration of neutrons into their constituent quarks, could explain the unusual magnitude of the luminosity.

SN 2007bi

SN 2007bi was an extremely energetic supernova discovered early in 2007 by the international Nearby Supernova Factory based at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The precursor star is estimated to have had 200 solar masses at the time of its formation and around 100 solar masses in its core when it went supernova. The explosion ejected more than 22 solar masses of silicon and other heavy elements into space during this supernova including more than 6 solar masses of radioactive nickel which caused the expanding gases to glow very brightly for many months.

The supernova has been described as an unambiguous fit for the pair-instability supernova model.


A supernova ( plural: supernovae or supernovas, abbreviations: SN and SNe) is a transient astronomical event that occurs during the last stellar evolutionary stages of the life of a massive star, whose dramatic and catastrophic destruction is marked by one final, titanic explosion. This causes the sudden appearance of a "new" bright star, before slowly fading from sight over several weeks or months or years.

Supernovae are more energetic than novae. In Latin, nova means "new", referring astronomically to what appears to be a temporary new bright star. Adding the prefix "super-" distinguishes supernovae from ordinary novae, which are far less luminous. The word supernova was coined by Walter Baade and Fritz Zwicky in 1931.

Only three Milky Way, naked-eye supernova events have been observed during the last thousand years, though many have been observed in other galaxies. The most recent directly observed supernova in the Milky Way was Kepler's Supernova in 1604, but the remnants of recent supernovae have also been found. Observations of supernovae in other galaxies suggest they occur on average about three times every century in the Milky Way, and that any galactic supernova would almost certainly be observable with modern astronomical telescopes.

Theoretical studies indicate that most supernovae are triggered by one of two basic mechanisms: the sudden re-ignition of nuclear fusion in a degenerate star or the sudden gravitational collapse of a massive star's core. In the first instance, a degenerate white dwarf may accumulate sufficient material from a binary companion, either through accretion or via a merger, to raise its core temperature enough to trigger runaway nuclear fusion, completely disrupting the star. In the second case, the core of a massive star may undergo sudden gravitational collapse, releasing gravitational potential energy as a supernova. While some observed supernovae are more complex than these two simplified theories, the astrophysical mechanics have been established and accepted by most astronomers for some time.

Supernovae can expel several solar masses of material at speeds up to several percent of the speed of light. This drives an expanding and fast-moving shock wave into the surrounding interstellar medium, sweeping up an expanding shell of gas and dust observed as a supernova remnant. Supernova nucleosynthesis is a major source of elements heavier than nitrogen in the interstellar medium, and the expanding shock waves can directly trigger the formation of new stars. Supernova remnants might be a major source of cosmic rays. Supernovae might produce strong gravitational waves, though, thus far, the gravitational waves detected have been from the merger of black holes and neutron stars, such as those that can be left behind by supernovae.

Trumpler 15

Trumpler 15 is an open cluster in the constellation Carina that lies on the outskirts of the Carina Nebula. Estimated ages of the stars in Trumpler 15 suggest that the cluster is slightly older than its sibling clusters Trumpler 14 and 16.


The University of Hawai'i 88-inch (2.24-meter) telescope called UH88, UH2.2, or simply 88 by members of the local astronomical community is situated at the Mauna Kea Observatories and operated by the University's Institute for Astronomy. It was constructed in 1968, and entered service in 1970, at which point it was known as "The Mauna Kea Observatory." It became one of the first professional telescope to be controlled by a computer. The telescope was built with funding from NASA, to support Solar System missions and is controlled by the University of Hawai'i. The success of the telescope helped demonstrate the value of Mauna Kea for astronomical observations.On December 4, 1984 it became the first telescope to make optical closure phase measurements on an astronomical source using an aperture mask.

UH88 is a Cassegrain reflector tube telescope with an f/10 focal ratio, supported by a large open fork equatorial mount. It was the last telescope on Mauna Kea to use a tube design rather than an open truss, and is the largest in the complex to use an open fork mount, with neighboring telescopes in the 3-meter class using English fork designs.

As the only research telescope controlled solely by the University, UH88 has long been the primary telescope used by its professors, postdoctoral scholars and graduate students, and as a result, the site of numerous discoveries. David C. Jewitt and Jane X. Luu discovered the first Kuiper belt object, 15760 Albion using UH88, and a team led by Jewitt and Scott S. Sheppard discovered 45 of the known moons of Jupiter, as well as moons of Saturn, Uranus and Neptune.

The Institute for Astronomy also makes agreements with other organizations for portions of available observing time. Currently, the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan uses UH88 for some research projects for which its far larger and more expensive Subaru Observatory, also on Mauna Kea, would be overkill. The Nearby Supernova Factory project, based at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, also has its Supernova Integrated Field Spectrograph (SNIFS) instrument mounted on UH88.

In June 2011, the telescope and its weather station were struck by lightning, damaging many systems and disabling it, but the telescope was repaired by August 2011 Some of the systems at the observatory were 41 years old at the time of the damage and had to be reverse engineered to be fixed.The weather station is currently under development.

Physics of

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