We can find gravitational lensing-enhanced supernovae, we just have to look

(ORDO NEWS) — Gravitational lensing makes it possible to observe supernovae and other transients much farther than we normally can.

The new proposal describes a plan to use the full catalog of strong gravitational lenses to capture these rare events at extreme distances.

Supernovae and transitional stars

Transitional phenomena are amazing. In astronomy, a transient event is any phenomenon that occurs in the sky and does not last long.

They range from classical novae (nuclear explosion on a white dwarf), kilonovae (merger of two neutron stars), supernovae (explosions of whole stars), tidal disruptions (stars are torn apart by black holes), etc.

However, these transitional phenomena remain mysterious. However, these transients remain relatively mysterious. To better understand how they work, astronomers need to build a large library of transient events.

Astronomers are only now beginning to build a comprehensive understanding of supernovae and other transient phenomena.

This is due to the fact that these events are so fleeting. Catching them at the very beginning requires a lucky observation, and then quick follow-up observations to study the event before it disappears.

In addition, our ability to observe supernovae and other transients is limited by the size of our telescopes. If a supernova explodes in a very distant galaxy, we will simply be out of luck. Then we won’t be able to see it and add to our collection.

One way to expand our understanding of supernovae and transients is to trap them in the depths of the universe. But it’s not easy, because they are so far away. Luckily, astronomers have devised a trick to travel light years by using a strange quirk of gravity to amplify optical power.

A strange process is gravitational lensing. A massive object bends the path of light. If everything is positioned correctly, this curvature can mimic the action of a magnifying lens.

So, if we look at a massive object such as a cluster of galaxies, we can see distant galaxies behind it because the cluster amplifies the light from those galaxies.

By carefully studying cluster observations, astronomers have been able to discover many galaxies that would otherwise be too far away for our observation.

If supernovae or other transients form in these extremely distant galaxies, we can capture them if some massive cluster in front of it accidentally hits the lens. Sometimes it even allows you to get multiple images of the same event, since different images take different paths through the intermediate cluster.

But how to move from happy accidents to a comprehensive observational program? This question is asked by an article that recently appeared in the preprint journal arXiv.

The researchers working on the paper propose to create a catalog of good candidate structures for lensing, such as groups of galaxies and clusters. They will identify these candidates based on their ability to lens objects behind them.

Then, upcoming studies such as the Vera Rubin Observatory’s Legacy Survey of Space and Time will be able to keep an eye on these promising candidates.

The observatory will look for supernovae or other transients. When it detects them, it can send an automatic alert. Other studies can then target the transient and observe its development.

The authors believe that their method will be able to capture up to 80% of all supernovae that can be detected using this method, which will greatly expand our understanding of the transitional universe.

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