Superluminous supernovae in the next decade

2 - 26 May 2017

Jeremy Mould, Ferdinando Patat, Jeff Cooke, Lifan Wang, Alexander Heger

Superluminous supernovae (SLSNe) are events ~10-100 times more luminous than normal supernovae. To date, ~50 SLSNe have been observed from the local Universe to z ~ 4. Their extreme energies suggest the deaths of very massive stars, with some powered by exotic mechanisms such as magnetar spin-down or the long-theorized pair-instability process. In addition, it appears that certain types of SLSNe prefer dwarf, low-metallicity host galaxies, which may provide a clue to their nature.

In the early Universe, the Population III stars, are predicted to have a mass distribution skewed to high masses, with fraction expected to result in SLSNe occurring potentially as late as z ~ 2, within the current regime of detection. The extreme luminosities of SLSNe enable their detection to z > 15 and provide a means to probe the very early Universe, beyond the reach of what can be studied by galaxies. SLSNe may have left a unique chemical imprint on the Universe and their use as absorption-line probes of their local environment, host galaxy, and the intervening IGM may be our only means to probe this early epoch.

SLSNe likely were key contributors to cosmic reionization by emitting enormous bursts of UV photons and by arresting star formation in low-mass galaxies which are expected to have provided the bulk of ionizing photons to reionize the Universe. Finally, certain sub-types of SLSNe hold promise for use as standard candles to probe dark energy deep into the epoch of deceleration.

Wide-area surveys should increase the sample of SLSNe at low and high redshift by nearly an order of magnitude in the next 2-3 years. Thus, it is be timely in 2017 to review what is known of the observations and the state-of-the-art models in light of future facilities such as JWST, WFIRST, LSST, the ELTs, and SKA. 

This programme will bring together theoretical and observational experts from 3 communities - massive star supernovae, the dark ages and first stars, and galaxy formation - with the aim of better understanding SLSNe and their host galaxies from the local to early Universe. We will address questions such as: What are the explosion mechanisms of SLSNe and are some bona-fide pair-instability supernovae? Can their progenitor masses be constrained and thus used to measure the form of the IMF at low and high redshift? What impact do SLSNe have on their host galaxies and are mergers important? What was their contribution to reionization? Are some SLSNe standard candles? What are the design requirements for future facilities to progress this field? And finally, what new physics needs to be explored?

2017 MIAPP Superluminous Supernova in the Next Decade weekly event overview.

The aim of this MIAPP is to address three overall topics: SLSNe and massive stars, probing the dark ages and first stars, and SLSN hosts and galaxy formation.

The current plan for the schedule is to start each week with a short talk summary of what has been discussed during the previous week(s) for those who are just arriving, hold balanced talks and discussions on all topics each week, and bring what has been learned to the forefront on the last day of each week. The final week will adhere to this format but also include an overall workshop summary, which will be passed around to all attendees later. We believe this approach will provide interesting talks for everyone attending and, more importantly, enable cross-area discussion and collaboration. Moreover, it accommodates the format of MIAPP in that participants register for varied lengths of stay (2+ week stays) and varied arrival/departure dates and that there is a limit to the number of participants at any one time each week as a result of the finite MIAPP office space.

Please note that the registration deadline is August 2. You will not want to miss out on this exciting workshop!