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The K2 Supernova Experiment - Campaigns 16 and 17

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Principal Investigator: Peter Garnavich, University of Notre Dame

Program Summary:

We are continuing our successful program using Kepler/K2 to search for supernovae. The early light- curves of supernovae contain important information on nature of these systems and their progenitor systems. Traditional, ground-based, supernovae surveys typically detect supernovae days after the initial explosion and have sparse data for the earliest times after explosion. Very few well-studied supernovae have both the early-detection and cadence necessary to detect these early-time feature in their light curves. Kepler K2 provides a continuous 30-minute cadence and crucial observations of the early rise time, previously inaccessible to other studies. This early information, combined with the exquisite photometric accuracy available from a space-based observatory, allows us, for the first time, to compare theoretical models and progenitor system signatures to observations. Without knowing the type of transient object and full-color information, the scientific usefulness of the dataset will be limited. Spectroscopic confirmation and classification is imperative to the success of our experiment and Gemini, with world-class rapid-response and light-gathering power, has a set of unique capabilities needed for this project. Kepler/K2 Campaign fields 16 and 17 are being dedicated to monitoring ~20,000 galaxie in order to provide a statistical sample of the best supernovae light curves ever obtained. These fields are being observed by Kepler/K2 in forward-facing mode that will allow for simultaneous observations from the ground. Spectroscopic observations with GMOS/Gemini are crucial to the overall success of this project.


  • Brad Tucker, Australian National University
  • Steven Margheim, Gemini Observatory
  • Ed Shaya, University of Maryland
  • Dan Kasen, UC Berkeley
  • Armin Rest, STSCI