Institute for Advanced Study / Princeton University Joint Astrophysics Colloquium

Finding Relativistic Stellar Explosions as Fast Optical Transients.

For the last half-century, relativistic outflows accompanying the final collapse of massive stars have predominantly been detected via high-energy emission, as long-duration gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). Yet, it has long been hypothesized that GRBs are the tip of the iceberg of relativistic stellar explosions, because the conditions required to produce and detect a GRB are contrived. I will present results from a search for relativistic stellar explosions using optical time-domain surveys. The emerging zoo includes afterglows at cosmological distances with no detected GRB, supernovae with luminous X-ray and radio emission, and a mysterious class of "fast blue optical transients" with minute-timescale optical flares at supernova-like luminosities. An understanding of the origin of these events and their relation to GRBs will be enabled by upcoming time-domain surveys in other bands, including X-ray, UV, and submillimeter.

Date & Time

February 20, 2024 | 11:00am – 12:00pm


Peyton Hall Auditorium


Anna Ho, Cornell University