LSST Target of Opportunity proposal for locating a core collapse supernova in our galaxy triggered by a neutrino supernova alert

Journal Article (Academic article)

A few times a century, a core collapse supernova (CCSN) occurs in our galaxy. When such galactic CCSNe happen, over 99\% of its gravitational binding energy is released in the form of neutrinos. Over a period of tens of seconds, a powerful neutrino flux is emitted from the collapsing star. When the exploding shock wave finally reaches the surface of the star, optical photons escaping the expanding stellar envelope leave the star and eventually arrive at Earth as a visible brightening. Crucially, although the neutrino signal is prompt, the time to the shock wave breakout can be minutes to many hours later. This means that the neutrino signal will serve as an alert, warning the optical astronomy community the light from the explosion is coming. Quickly identifying the location of the supernova on the sky and disseminating it to the all available ground and spaced-based instruments will be critical to learn as much as possible about the event. Some neutrino experiments can report pointing information for these galactic CCSNe. In particular, the Super-Kamiokande experiment can point to a few degrees for CCSNe near the center of our galaxy. A CCSN located 10 kpc from Earth is expected to result in a pointing resolution on the order of 3 degrees. LSST's field of view (FOV) is well matched to this initial search box. LSSTs depth is also uniquely suited for identifying CCSNe even if they fail or are obscured by the dust of the galactic plane. This is a proposal to, upon receipt of such an alert, prioritize the use of LSST for a full day of observing to continuously monitor a pre-identified region of sky and, by using difference imaging, identify and announce the location of the supernova.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Walter, CW; Scolnic, DM; Slosar, A

Published Date

  • January 6, 2019