Institute of Astronomy

Transient Astronomy with the Gaia Satellite

SpeakerTalk DateTalk Series
Simon Hodgkin18 January 2012Institute of Astronomy Seminars

Abstract

Gaia is a European Space Agency (ESA) astrometry space mission, and a successor to the ESA Hipparcos mission. Gaia’s main goal is to collect high-precision astrometric data (i.e. positions, parallaxes, and proper motions) for the brightest 1 billion objects in the sky. These data, complemented with multi-band, multi-epoch photometric and spectroscopic data collected from the same observing platform, will allow astronomers to reconstruct the formation history, structure, and evolution of the Galaxy.

Gaia will observe the whole sky for 5 years, providing a unique opportunity for the discovery of large numbers of transient and anomalous events, e.g.supernovae, novae and microlensing events, GRB afterglows, Fallback Supernovae, and other theoretical or unexpected phenomena. The Photometric Science Alerts team has been tasked with the early detection, classification and prompt release of anomalous sources in the Gaia data stream. I will discuss the challenges we face in preparing to use Gaia to search for transient pheonomena at optical wavelengths.

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