From CTIO: “Chilean scientists discover crucial event right before the death of a star in Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO)”

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Dark Energy Survey

Evidence of Type II supernova

Today, the journal Nature Astronomy will publish the article The delay of shock breakout due to circumstellar material evident in most Type II Supernovae [science paper not made available even in a search], written by a group of researchers from the Center for Mathematical Modeling (CMM) and the Department of Astronomy of the University of Chile, Millennium Institute of Astrophysics (MAS) and international institutions, after four years of work.

The discovery was made at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory – which is part of the AURA Observatory in Chile, funded by the National Science Foundation of the United States – by scanning the sky using DECam for 14 nights at the 4-m Victor Blanco Telescope, and they will change what is known about supernova explosions and the last stages of stellar evolution.

Dark Energy Camera [DECam], built at FNAL

NOAO/CTIO Victor M Blanco 4m Telescope which houses the DECam at Cerro Tololo, Chile, housing DECam at an altitude of 7200 feet

In particular, the group discovered that supernovae generated from red supergiants, stars of great size in advanced stages of their lives, present a flash before the main explosion not predicted by current models.

This brightness is explained by the collision between the expanding gas of the supernova and a material of unknown origin that surrounds the star, explains Francisco Förster, a researcher at the CMM and MAS leader of the research: “The presence of this material makes it possible to extract part of the enormous energy produced during the explosion and turn it into light that we can detect. ”

The discovery was made possible because the explosions were observed in real time in their initial stages. To do this, data analysis techniques developed in Chile unprecedented for Astronomy, machine learning, astrophysical models created in Japan and high performance computing were used.

“This research is part of the work that the CMM performs around acquiring and structuring complex databases, formulating methodologies to make sense of these databases and interpreting the results,” says Alejandro Maass, director of the Center for Mathematical Modeling. “It’s undoubtedly a step forward in the challenges that data science brings to society, academia and industry.”

According to Förster, the discovery will open new research steps thanks to the large telescopes that are being built in northern Chile, such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, also belonging to the AURA Observatory, which will sweep the entire sky every three nights: “This will enable us to collect more supernova samples, which will let us gain a better understanding of this phenomenon.”


LSST Camera, built at SLAC

LSST telescope, currently under construction on the El Peñón peak at Cerro Pachón Chile, a 2,682-meter-high mountain in Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing Gemini South and Southern Astrophysical Research Telescopes.

For the Director of Cerro Tololo, Dr. Steve Heathcote “This result shows how in the era of Big Data, the use of advanced computing techniques -a field that in Chile has been established with global capabilities in CMM- to filter massive data sets delivered by modern instruments such as DECam, allow scientific discoveries that would have been impossible in the past. The techniques developed at CMM will be critical tools to handle the large amount of data that will come from LSST when it starts operations in Chile in 2023. ”

Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO)

NOAO Cerro Tolo

The Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) is located in northern Chile. CTIO operates the 4-meter, 1.5-meter, 0.9-meter, and Curtis Schmidt telescopes at this site.


See the full article here .

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The NOAO System Science Center (NSSC)

Gemini/North telescope at Maunakea, Hawaii, USA,4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level

Gemini North

Gemini South telescope, Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) campus near La Serena, Chile, at an altitude of 7200 feet

Gemini South

The NOAO System Science Center (NSSC) at NOAO is the gateway for the U.S. astronomical community to the International Gemini Project: twin 8.1 meter telescopes in Hawaii and Chile that provide unprecendented coverage (northern and southern skies) and details of our universe.

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