S. R. Kulkarni

California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, California, United States

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Publications (676)3772.44 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: We report here the discovery by the Intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF) of iPTF14yb, a luminous ($M_{r}\approx-27.8$ mag), cosmological (redshift 1.9733), rapidly fading optical transient. We demonstrate, based on probabilistic arguments and a comparison with the broader population, that iPTF14yb is the optical afterglow of the long-duration gamma-ray burst GRB 140226A. This marks the first unambiguous discovery of a GRB afterglow prior to (and thus entirely independent of) an associated high-energy trigger. We estimate the rate of iPTF14yb-like sources (i.e., cosmologically distant relativistic explosions) based on iPTF observations, inferring an all-sky value of $\Re_{\mathrm{rel}}=610$ yr$^{-1}$ (68% confidence interval of 110-2000 yr$^{-1}$). Our derived rate is consistent (within the large uncertainty) with the all-sky rate of on-axis GRBs derived by the Swift satellite. Finally, we briefly discuss the implications of the nondetection to date of bona fide "orphan" afterglows (i.e., those lacking detectable high-energy emission) on GRB beaming and the degree of baryon loading in these relativistic jets.
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    ABSTRACT: We present near-infrared (NIR) time-series spectroscopy, as well as complementary ultraviolet (UV), optical, and NIR data, of the Type Ia supernova (SN Ia) iPTF13ebh, which was discovered within two days from the estimated time of explosion. The first NIR spectrum was taken merely 2.3 days after explosion and may be the earliest NIR spectrum yet obtained of a SN Ia. The most striking features in the spectrum are several NIR C I lines, and the C I {\lambda}1.0693 {\mu}m line is the strongest ever observed in a SN Ia. Interestingly, no strong optical C II counterparts were found, even though the optical spectroscopic time series began early and is densely-cadenced. Except at the very early epochs, within a few days from the time of explosion, we show that the strong NIR C I compared to the weaker optical C II appears to be general in SNe Ia. iPTF13ebh is a fast decliner with {\Delta}m15(B) = 1.79 $\pm$ 0.01, and its absolute magnitude obeys the linear part of the width-luminosity relation. It is therefore categorized as a "transitional" event, on the fast-declining end of normal SNe Ia as opposed to subluminous/91bg-like objects. iPTF13ebh shows NIR spectroscopic properties that are distinct from both the normal and subluminous/91bg-like classes, bridging the observed characteristics of the two classes. These NIR observations suggest composition and density of the inner core similar to that of 91bg-like events, and a deep reaching carbon burning layer not observed in slower declining SNe Ia. There is also a substantial difference between the explosion times inferred from the early-time light curve and the velocity evolution of the Si II {\lambda}0.6355 {\mu}m line, implying a long dark phase of ~ 4 days.
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    ABSTRACT: The Fermi Gamma-Ray Space Telescope has greatly expanded the number and energy window of observations of gamma-ray bursts (GRBs). However, the coarse localizations of tens to a hundred square degrees provided by the Fermi Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) instrument have posed a formidable obstacle to locating the bursts' host galaxies, measuring their redshifts, and tracking their panchromatic afterglows. We have built a target of opportunity mode for the intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF) in order to perform targeted searches for Fermi afterglows. Here, we present the results of one year of this program: eight afterglow discoveries, two of which (GRBs 130702A and 140606B) were at low redshift (z=0.145 and 0.384 respectively) and had spectroscopically confirmed broad-line type Ic supernovae. We present our broadband follow-up including spectroscopy as well as X-ray, UV, optical, millimeter, and radio observations. We study possible selection effects in the context of the total Fermi and Swift GRB samples. We identify one new outlier on the Amati relation. We find that two bursts are consistent with a mildly relativistic shock breaking out from the progenitor star, rather than the ultra-relativistic internal shock mechanism that powers standard cosmological bursts. Finally, in the context of the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF), we discuss how we will continue to expand this effort to find optical counterparts of binary neutron star mergers that may soon be detected by Advanced LIGO and Virgo.
  • The Astronomical Journal 11/2014; 148(6):138. DOI:10.1088/0004-6256/148/6/138 · 4.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The majority of ultraluminous X-ray sources are point sources that are spatially offset from the nuclei of nearby galaxies and whose X-ray luminosities exceed the theoretical maximum for spherical infall (the Eddington limit) onto stellar-mass black holes. Their X-ray luminosities in the 0.5-10 kiloelectronvolt energy band range from 10(39) to 10(41) ergs per second. Because higher masses imply less extreme ratios of the luminosity to the isotropic Eddington limit, theoretical models have focused on black hole rather than neutron star systems. The most challenging sources to explain are those at the luminous end of the range (more than 10(40) ergs per second), which require black hole masses of 50-100 times the solar value or significant departures from the standard thin disk accretion that powers bright Galactic X-ray binaries, or both. Here we report broadband X-ray observations of the nuclear region of the galaxy M82 that reveal pulsations with an average period of 1.37 seconds and a 2.5-day sinusoidal modulation. The pulsations result from the rotation of a magnetized neutron star, and the modulation arises from its binary orbit. The pulsed flux alone corresponds to an X-ray luminosity in the 3-30 kiloelectronvolt range of 4.9 × 10(39) ergs per second. The pulsating source is spatially coincident with a variable source that can reach an X-ray luminosity in the 0.3-10 kiloelectronvolt range of 1.8 × 10(40) ergs per second. This association implies a luminosity of about 100 times the Eddington limit for a 1.4-solar-mass object, or more than ten times brighter than any known accreting pulsar. This implies that neutron stars may not be rare in the ultraluminous X-ray population, and it challenges physical models for the accretion of matter onto magnetized compact objects.
    Nature 10/2014; 514(7521):202-4. DOI:10.1038/nature13791 · 42.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The recently discovered fast radio bursts (FRBs), presumably of extra-galactic origin, have the potential to become a powerful probe of the intergalactic medium (IGM). We point out a few such potential applications. We provide expressions for the dispersion measure and rotation measure as a function of redshift, and we discuss the sensitivity of these measures to the HeII reionization and the IGM magnetic field. Finally we calculate the microlensing effect from an isolate, extragalctic stellar-mass compact object on the FRB spectrum. The time delays between the two lensing images will induce constructive and destructive interference, leaving a specific imprint on the spectra of FRBs. With a high all-sky rate, a large statistical sample of FRBs is expected to make these applications feasible.
    The Astrophysical Journal 09/2014; 797(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/797/1/71 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The explosive fate of massive Wolf-Rayet stars (WRSs) is a key open question in stellar physics. An appealing option is that hydrogen-deficient WRSs are the progenitors of some hydrogen-poor supernova explosions of types IIb, Ib and Ic (ref. 2). A blue object, having luminosity and colours consistent with those of some WRSs, has recently been identified in pre-explosion images at the location of a supernova of type Ib (ref. 3), but has not yet been conclusively determined to have been the progenitor. Similar work has so far only resulted in non-detections. Comparison of early photometric observations of type Ic supernovae with theoretical models suggests that the progenitor stars had radii of less than 10(12) centimetres, as expected for some WRSs. The signature of WRSs, their emission line spectra, cannot be probed by such studies. Here we report the detection of strong emission lines in a spectrum of type IIb supernova 2013cu (iPTF13ast) obtained approximately 15.5 hours after explosion (by 'flash spectroscopy', which captures the effects of the supernova explosion shock breakout flash on material surrounding the progenitor star). We identify Wolf-Rayet-like wind signatures, suggesting a progenitor of the WN(h) subclass (those WRSs with winds dominated by helium and nitrogen, with traces of hydrogen). The extent of this dense wind may indicate increased mass loss from the progenitor shortly before its explosion, consistent with recent theoretical predictions.
    Nature 05/2014; 509(7501):471-4. DOI:10.1038/nature13304 · 42.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present optical photometry and spectroscopy of the broad-lined Type Ic supernova (SNIc-BL) PTF10qts, which was discovered as part of the Palomar Transient Factory. The supernova was located in a dwarf galaxy of magnitude $r=21.1$ at a redshift $z=0.0907$. We find that the $R$-band light curve is a poor proxy for bolometric data and use photometric and spectroscopic data to construct and constrain the bolometric light curve. The derived bolometric magnitude at maximum light is $M_{\rm bol} = -18.51\pm0.2$ mag, comparable to that of SN 1998bw ($M_{\rm bol} = -18.7$ mag) which was associated with a gamma-ray burst (GRB). PTF10qts is one of the most luminous SNIc-BL observed without an accompanying GRB. We estimate the physical parameters of the explosion using data from our programme of follow-up observations, finding that it produced a larger mass of radioactive nickel compared to other SNeIc-BL with similar inferred ejecta masses and kinetic energies. The progenitor of the event was likely a $\sim20$M$_{\odot}$ star.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 05/2014; 442(3). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stu1017 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The wavelength-dependence of the extinction of Type Ia SN2014J in the nearby galaxy M82 has been measured using UV to near-IR photometry obtained with the Hubble Space Telescope, the Nordic Optical Telescope, and the Mount Abu Infrared Telescope. This is the first time that the reddening of a SN Ia is characterized over the full wavelength range of $0.2$-$2$ microns. A total-to-selective extinction, $R_V\geq3.1$, is ruled out with high significance. The best fit at maximum using a Galactic type extinction law yields $R_V = 1.4\pm0.1$. The observed reddening of SN2014J is also compatible with a power-law extinction, $A_{\lambda}/A_V = \left( {\lambda}/ {\lambda_V} \right)^{p}$ as expected from multiple scattering of light, with $p=-2.1\pm0.1$. After correction for differences in reddening, SN2014J appears to be very similar to SN2011fe over the 14 broad-band filter light curves used in our study.
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters 04/2014; 788(2). DOI:10.1088/2041-8205/788/2/L21 · 5.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: [Abridged] Millisecond duration bright radio pulses in the 1.4-GHz band and with inferred dispersion measures (DM) well in excess of Galactic values have been reported by Lorimer et al. and Thornton et al.. The all-sky rate of these events is large, ~10^4 per day above ~1 Jy. To add to the mystery there now exists "Perytons'' -- also pulsed and dispersed sources but most certainly of local (artificial or atmospheric) origin. The suggested models now range from sources originating in the Earth's atmosphere, in stellar coronae, in other galaxies and at even cosmological distances. Using a series of physically motivated assumptions combined with the observed properties of these bursts, we explore possible constraints on sites or processes that can account for such high DMs. In our analysis, we focus on the first such reported event by Lorimer et al.: a 30 Jy, 5-ms duration burst with a dispersion measure of 375 cm^-3 pc and exhibiting a steep frequency-dependent pulse width (hereafter dubbed as the Sparker). Assuming that the DM of the Sparker is produced by propagation through a cold plasma and using all available observations we constrain its distance to be greater than 300 kpc. A similar analysis on the four other reported events (all with larger DMs) would lead to a stronger conclusion, namely these "Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs)'' (the moniker given to this group by the discoverers) are of extragalactic origin, provided that the inferred DM arises due to propagation through cold plasma. We then explore proposed extra-galactic as well as stellar coronal models for FRBs and find most of them either unable to account for the high daily rate or have difficulty in having an ultra-clean explosion site (essential to the production of high brightness temperature pulse) or suffer from free-free absorption on length scales beyond the immediate production of the radio pulses.
    The Astrophysical Journal 02/2014; 797(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/797/1/70 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In this Letter, we report the discovery of SN2014J in the nearby galaxy M82. Given its proximity, it offers the best opportunity to date to study a thermonuclear supernova over a wide range of the electromagnetic spectrum. The first set of optical, near-IR and mid-IR observations of SN2014J, orchestrated by the intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF), show that SN2014J is a spectroscopically normal Type Ia supernova, albeit exhibiting high-velocity features in its spectrum and heavily reddened by dust in the host galaxy. Our earliest detections start just hours after the fitted time of explosion. We use high-resolution optical spectroscopy to analyze the dense intervening material and do not detect any evolution in the resolved absorption features during the lightcurve rise. Similarly to other highly reddened Type Ia supernovae, a low value of total-to-selective extinction, Rv < 2, provides the best match to our observations. We also study pre-explosion optical and near-IR images from HST with special emphasis on the sources nearest to the SN location.
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    ABSTRACT: We present spectroscopic observations of the host galaxies of 82 low-redshift type Ia supernovae (SNe Ia) discovered by the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF). We determine star-formation rates, gas-phase/stellar metallicities, and stellar masses and ages of these objects. As expected, strong correlations between the SN Ia light-curve width (stretch) and the host age/mass/metallicity are found: fainter, faster-declining events tend to be hosted by older/massive/metal-rich galaxies. There is some evidence that redder SNe Ia explode in higher metallicity galaxies, but we found no relation between the SN colour and host galaxy extinction based on the Balmer decrement, suggesting that the colour variation of these SNe does not primarily arise from this source. SNe Ia in higher-mass/metallicity galaxies also appear brighter after stretch/colour corrections than their counterparts in lower mass hosts, and the stronger correlation is with gas-phase metallicity suggesting this may be the more important variable. We also compared the host stellar mass distribution to that in galaxy targeted SN surveys and the high-redshift untargeted Supernova Legacy Survey (SNLS). SNLS has many more low mass galaxies, while the targeted searches have fewer. This can be explained by an evolution in the galaxy stellar mass function, coupled with a SN delay-time distribution proportional to $t^{-1}$. Finally, we found no significant difference in the mass--metallicity relation of our SN Ia hosts compared to field galaxies, suggesting any metallicity effect on the SN Ia rate is small.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 11/2013; 438(2). DOI:10.1093/mnras/stt2287 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Only a handful of supernovae (SNe) have been studied in multiwavelengths from the radio to X-rays, starting a few days after the explosion. The early detection and classification of the nearby Type IIb SN 2011dh/PTF 11eon in M51 provides a unique opportunity to conduct such observations. We present detailed data obtained at one of the youngest phase ever of a core-collapse SN (days 3-12 after the explosion) in the radio, millimetre and X-rays; when combined with optical data, this allows us to explore the early evolution of the SN blast wave and its surroundings. Our analysis shows that the expanding SN shock wave does not exhibit equipartition (ɛe/ɛB ˜ 1000), and is expanding into circumstellar material that is consistent with a density profile falling like R-2. Within modelling uncertainties we find an average velocity of the fast parts of the ejecta of 15 000 ± 1800 km s-1, contrary to previous analysis. This velocity places SN 2011dh in an intermediate blast wave regime between the previously defined compact and extended SN Type IIb subtypes. Our results highlight the importance of early (˜1 d) high-frequency observations of future events. Moreover, we show the importance of combined radio/X-ray observations for determining the microphysics ratio ɛe/ɛB.
    Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 09/2013; 436(2):2312-. DOI:10.1093/mnras/stt1645 · 5.23 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report the discovery of the optical afterglow of the gamma-ray burst (GRB) 130702A, identified upon searching 71 square degrees surrounding the Fermi Gamma-ray Burst Monitor (GBM) localization. Discovered and characterized by the intermediate Palomar Transient Factory (iPTF), iPTF13bxl is the first afterglow discovered solely based on a GBM localization. Real-time image subtraction, machine learning, human vetting, and rapid response multi-wavelength follow-up enabled us to quickly narrow a list of 27,004 optical transient candidates to a single afterglow-like source. Detection of a new, fading X-ray source by Swift and a radio counterpart by CARMA and the VLA confirmed the association between iPTF13bxl and GRB 130702A. Spectroscopy with the Magellan and Palomar 200-inch telescopes showed the afterglow to be at a redshift of z=0.145, placing GRB 130702A among the lowest redshift GRBs detected to date. The prompt gamma-ray energy release and afterglow luminosity are intermediate between typical cosmological GRBs and nearby sub-luminous events such as GRB 980425 and GRB 060218. The bright afterglow and emerging supernova offer an opportunity for extensive panchromatic follow-up. Our discovery of iPTF13bxl demonstrates the first observational proof-of-principle for ~10 Fermi-iPTF localizations annually. Furthermore, it represents an important step towards overcoming the challenges inherent in uncovering faint optical counterparts to comparably localized gravitational wave events in the Advanced LIGO and Virgo era.
    The Astrophysical Journal 07/2013; 776(2). DOI:10.1088/2041-8205/776/2/L34 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the discovery, classification, and extensive panchromatic (from radio to X-ray) follow-up observations of PTF11qcj, a supernova discovered by the Palomar Transient Factory. PTF11qcj is located at a distance of dL ~ 124 Mpc. Our observations with the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array show that this event is radio-loud: PTF11qcj reached a radio peak luminosity comparable to that of the famous gamma-ray-burst-associated supernova 1998bw (L_{5GHz} ~ 10^{29} erg/s/Hz). PTF11qcj is also detected in X-rays with the Chandra observatory, and in the infrared band with Spitzer. Our multi-wavelength analysis probes the supernova interaction with circumstellar material. The radio observations suggest a progenitor mass-loss rate of ~10^{-4} Msun/yr x (v_w/1000 km/s), and a velocity of ~(0.3-0.5)c for the fastest moving ejecta (at ~10d after explosion). However, these estimates are derived assuming the simplest model of supernova ejecta interacting with a smooth circumstellar material characterized by radial power-law density profile, and do not account for possible inhomogeneities in the medium and asphericity of the explosion. The radio light curve shows deviations from such simple model, as well as a re-brightening at late times. The X-ray flux from PTF11qcj is compatible with the high-frequency extrapolation of the radio synchrotron emission (within the large uncertainties). An IR light echo from pre-existing dust is in agreement with our infrared data. Our analysis of pre-explosion data from the Palomar Transient Factory suggests that a precursor eruption of absolute magnitude M_r ~ -13 mag may have occurred ~ 2.5 yr prior to the supernova explosion. Based on our panchromatic follow-up campaign, we conclude that PTF11qcj fits the expectations from the explosion of a Wolf-Rayet star. Precursor eruptions may be a feature characterizing the final pre-explosion evolution of such stars.
    The Astrophysical Journal 07/2013; 782(1). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/782/1/42 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The intermediate Palomar Transient Factory reports our discovery of a young supernova, iPTF13bvn, in the nearby galaxy, NGC5806 (22.5Mpc). Our spectral sequence in the optical and infrared suggests a likely Type Ib classification. We identify a single, blue progenitor candidate in deep pre-explosion imaging within a 2{\sigma} error circle of 80 mas (8.7 pc). The candidate has a MB luminosity of -5.2 +/- 0.4 mag and a B-I color of 0.1+/-0.3 mag. If confirmed by future observations, this would be the first direct detection for a progenitor of a Type Ib. Fitting a power law to the early light curve, we find an extrapolated explosion date around 1.1 days before our first detection. We see no evidence of shock cooling. The pre-explosion detection limits constrain the radius of the progenitor to be smaller than a few solar radii. iPTF13bvn is also detected in cm and mm-wavelengths. Fitting a synchrotron self-absorption model to our radio data, we find a mass loading parameter of 1.3*10^12 g/cm. Assuming a wind velocity of 10^3km/s, we derive a progenitor mass loss rate of 3*10^-5Msun/yr. Our observations, taken as a whole, are consistent with a Wolf Rayet progenitor of the supernova iPTF13bvn.
    The Astrophysical Journal Letters 07/2013; 775(1). DOI:10.1088/2041-8205/775/1/L7 · 5.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We present the discovery, classification, and extensive panchromatic follow-up observations of PTF11qcj, a type Ibn supernova discovered by the Palomar Transient Factory. Our observations with the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array show that this event is the first radio-loud member of the rare Ibn class: PTF11qcj reached a radio peak luminosity comparable to that of the famous gamma-ray-burst-associated supernova 1998bw (L5GHz ~ 10^{29} erg/s/Hz). PTF11qcj is also detected in X-rays with the Chandra observatory, and in the infrared band with Spitzer. Our multi-wavelength analysis probes the supernova interaction with a Helium-rich circumstellar material. The radio observations suggest a progenitor mass-loss rate of ~ 10^{-4} Msun/yr x (v_w/1000 km/s), and a velocity of ~(0.3-0.5)c for the fastest moving ejecta (at about 10d after explosion). However, these estimates are derived assuming the simplest model of supernova ejecta interacting with a smooth circumstellar material, and could be improved via modeling accounting for inhomogeneities in the medium and asphericity of the explosion. The X-ray flux from PTF11qcj is compatible with the high-frequency extrapolation of the radio synchrotron emission (within the large uncertainties). A light echo from pre-existing dust is in agreement with our data. Our analysis of pre-explosion images from the Palomar Transient Factory suggests that a precursor eruption of M_r ~ -13 mag may have occurred ~2.5 yr prior to the supernova explosion. We conclude that PTF11qcj fits the expectations from the explosion of a Wolf-Rayet star of the WNE class. Precursor eruptions may be a common feature during the final evolution of such stars.
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    ABSTRACT: We report on an analysis of the Extended Chandra Deep Field South (E-CDFS) region using archival data from the Very Large Array, with the goal of studying radio variability and transients at the sub-milliJansky level. The 49 epochs of E-CDFS observations at 1.4 GHz sample timescales from 1 day to 3 months. We find that only a fraction (1%) of unresolved radio sources above 40 μJy are variable at the 4σ level. There is no evidence that the fractional variability changes along with the known transition of radio-source populations below 1 mJy. Optical identifications of the sources show that the variable radio emission is associated with the central regions of an active galactic nucleus or a star-forming galaxy. After a detailed comparison of the efficacy of various source-finding algorithms, we use the best to carry out a transient search. No transients were found. This implies that the areal density of transients with peak flux density greater than 0.21 mJy is less than 0.37 deg–2 (at a confidence level of 95%). This result is approximately an order of magnitude below the transient rate measured at 5 GHz by Bower et al. but it is consistent with more recent upper limits from Frail et al. Our findings suggest that the radio sky at 1.4 GHz is relatively quiet. For multi-wavelength transient searches, such as the electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational waves, this frequency may be optimal for reducing the high background of false positives.
    The Astrophysical Journal 04/2013; 768(2):165. DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/768/2/165 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report the discovery by the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF) of the transient source PTF11agg, which is distinguished by three primary characteristics: (1) bright, rapidly fading optical transient emission; (2) a faint, blue quiescent optical counterpart; and (3) an associated year-long, scintillating radio transient. We argue that these observed properties are inconsistent with any known class of Galactic transients, and instead suggest a cosmological origin. The detection of incoherent radio emission at such distances implies a large emitting region, from which we infer the presence of relativistic ejecta. The observed properties are all consistent with the population of long-duration gamma-ray bursts (GRBs), marking the first time such an outburst has been discovered in the distant universe independent of a high-energy trigger. We searched for possible high-energy counterparts to PTF11agg, but found no evidence for associated prompt emission. We therefore consider three possible scenarios to account for a GRB-like afterglow without a high-energy counterpart: an "untriggered" GRB (lack of satellite coverage), an "orphan" afterglow (viewing-angle effects), and a "dirty fireball" (suppressed high-energy emission). The observed optical and radio light curves appear inconsistent with even the most basic predictions for off-axis afterglow models. The simplest explanation, then, is that PTF11agg is a normal, on-axis long-duration GRB for which the associated high-energy emission was simply missed. However, we have calculated the likelihood of such a serendipitous discovery by PTF and find that it is quite small (~ 2.6%). While not definitive, we nonetheless speculate that PTF11agg may represent a new, more common (> 4 times the on-axis GRB rate at 90% confidence) class of relativistic outbursts lacking associated high-energy emission.
    The Astrophysical Journal 04/2013; 769(2). DOI:10.1088/0004-637X/769/2/130 · 6.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The time-variable electromagnetic sky has been well-explored at a wide range of wavelengths. Numerous high-energy space missions take advantage of the dark Gamma-ray and X-ray sky and utilize very wide field detectors to provide almost continuous monitoring of the entire celestial sphere. In visible light, new wide-field ground-based surveys cover wide patches of sky with ever decreasing cadence, progressing from monthly-weekly time scale surveys to sub-night sampling. In the radio, new powerful instrumentation offers unprecedented sensitivity over wide fields of view, with pathfinder experiments for even more ambitious programs underway. In contrast, the ultra-violet (UV) variable sky is relatively poorly explored, even though it offers exciting scientific prospects. Here, we review the potential scientific impact of a wide-field UV survey on the study of explosive and other transient events, as well as known classes of variable objects, such as active galactic nuclei and variable stars. We quantify our predictions using a fiducial set of observational parameters which are similar to those envisaged for the proposed ULTRASAT mission. We show that such a mission would be able to revolutionize our knowledge about massive star explosions by measuring the early UV emission from hundreds of events, revealing key physical parameters of the exploding progenitor stars. Such a mission would also detect the UV emission from many tens of tidal-disruption events of stars by super massive black holes at galactic nuclei and enable a measurement of the rate of such events. The overlap of such a wide-field UV mission with existing and planned gravitational-wave and high-energy neutrino telescopes makes it especially timely.
    The Astronomical Journal 03/2013; 147(4). DOI:10.1088/0004-6256/147/4/79 · 4.05 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

16k Citations
3,772.44 Total Impact Points


  • 1990–2014
    • California Institute of Technology
      • • Division of Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy
      • • Department of Astronomy
      Pasadena, California, United States
  • 2011–2013
    • University of California, Santa Barbara
      • Department of Physics
      Santa Barbara, California, United States
  • 2011–2012
    • Carnegie Institution for Science
      • Department of Terrestrial Magnetism
      Вашингтон, West Virginia, United States
  • 2006–2012
    • Honolulu University
      Honolulu, Hawaii, United States
    • University of Toronto
      • Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    • Cornell University
      Ithaca, New York, United States
  • 2000–2011
    • Weizmann Institute of Science
      • • Department of Particle Physics and Astrophysics
      • • Department of Physics of Condensed Matter
      Tell Afif, Tel Aviv, Israel
  • 2009
    • University of Sydney
      • School of Physics
      Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • 2004–2008
    • Pennsylvania State University
      • Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics
      University Park, Maryland, United States
  • 2005
    • Pomona College
      • Department of Physics and Astronomy
      Клермонт, California, United States
    • Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics
      Arching, Bavaria, Germany
  • 2002–2005
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
      • Department of Physics
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1999–2005
    • Swinburne University of Technology
      • Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing
      Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
    • University of California, Berkeley
      Berkeley, California, United States
    • University of California, Santa Cruz
      Santa Cruz, California, United States
  • 1988–2005
    • Princeton University
      • • Department of Astrophysical Sciences
      • • Department of Physics
      Princeton, New Jersey, United States
  • 2001–2004
    • Utrecht University
      • Astronomical Institute
      Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands
  • 2000–2002
    • Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
      • Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
      Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
  • 1993–1999
    • National Radio Astronomy Observatory
      Charlottesville, Virginia, United States
  • 1997
    • University of Ferrara
      Ferrare, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
  • 1996
    • Université de Montréal
      Montréal, Quebec, Canada
  • 1992–1993
    • Pasadena City College
      Pasadena, Texas, United States
    • University of Groningen
      Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
    • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
      • Department of Physics and Astronomy
      North Carolina, United States
  • 1990–1993
    • Los Alamos National Laboratory
      Лос-Аламос, California, United States