Astronomy departmental seminar - Mansi Kasliwal (Caltech)

Unveiling Our Dynamic Infrared Sky
Our Universe has many stellar outcomes that shine the brightest in the infrared due to atomic opacity, self enshrouding, dust extinction, or low temperature. Multi-messenger emission from neutron star mergers is ubiquitous in the infrared as the bound-bound opacity of heavy elements pushes the peak of the emission to redder wavelengths. Emission from massive stars experiencing copious mass-loss or merging with other stars is self-obscured and better studied in the infrared. White dwarf merger products show dimming events that are best detected in the infrared. A classical nova or a Galactic supernova deep in the disk of the Milky Way is also likely brightest in the infrared on account of line-of-sight extinction. Yet, the infrared time-domain is hitherto largely unexplored.  In this colloquium, I describe how I am starting to open up the dynamic infrared sky with a series of experiments. First, I will describe a pathfinder SPIRITS survey with the Spitzer Space Telescope. Next, I will present the first wide-field infrared surveyor, Palomar Gattini IR, that is mapping 15000 square degrees to a J-band depth of 16 mag every two nights. Looking ahead, I will conclude with plans for the next generation infrared surveyors:  WINTER at Palomar Observatory in California, DREAMS in Australia, PRIME in South Africa and Cryoscope in Antarctica.