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Supernovae: Physics and Cosmology in the Next Decade (SPCND)
Start date: Jun 1, 2014, End date: May 31, 2019 PROJECT  FINISHED 

"Exploding stars, or supernovae, impact upon many diverse areas of astrophysics, from galaxy formation, to stellar evolution, to cosmology and studies of dark energy. I am playing a leading role in new, wide-field, high-cadence optical surveys that are revolutionising the study of supernovae, searching vast volumes of space, locating hundreds of events to study their demographics in detail, and uncovering new and bizarre types of explosions. In concert with a major European Southern Observatory public spectroscopic survey, PESSTO, these imaging surveys will provide an extraordinary dataset for understanding all facets of the supernova and explosive transient population. My work will perform several tests of the progenitors and physics of the classical type Ia supernovae in an attempt to understand how these crucial standard candles depend on their progenitor stellar populations. I will use these results to inform a new generation of models of type Ia supernovae. I will this distill these results to make a detailed measurement of the dark energy that powers the accelerating universe in which we live, greatly improving upon existing measurements of the variation of dark energy over the last ten billion years. A final aspect of my research is an innovative search for superluminous supernovae: a new class of supernova explosion a hundred times brighter than traditional supernovae, capable of being studied in the very distant universe. These objects may become cosmology's new standard candle, visible far beyond the reach of type Ia supernovae. My new search will significantly increase both the quantity and quality of superluminous supernova observations, allowing us to further our understanding of these enigmatic objects and use them in a cosmological setting for the first time."

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