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The Whisper and the Bang: Cosmic fireworks in the lives of compact binaries

Presentation #103.03 in the session “Dissertation I–III Prize Talk”.

Published onApr 01, 2022
The Whisper and the Bang: Cosmic fireworks in the lives of compact binaries

Compact binaries, consisting of a white dwarf, neutron star or black hole in a tight orbit around another star are forged through violent phenomena — from eruptive mass loss episodes (‘the whisper’) to spectacular explosions (‘the bang’) that have shaped the universe as we ‘see’ and ‘hear’ it today. They enrich the universe with heavy elements that form the backbone for life, and leave behind dead stellar remnants destined to merge by emitting gravitational waves. In this talk, I will present an overview of two major experiments I undertook during my thesis in pursuit of a complete road-map of the explosive lives of compact binaries. I will present the development of Palomar Gattini-IR, a wide-field infrared survey conducting the first untargeted census of the dynamic infrared sky, to derive i) the strongest constraints on the Galactic nova rate and ii) stringent constraints on fast infrared emission from a Galactic fast radio burst source. I will then present the largest volume-limited supernova classification experiment conducted to date using the Zwicky Transient Facility optical time domain survey to identify new classes of i) ‘ultra-stripped’ supernovae that form neutron stars in compact binary systems detectable in gravitational waves and ii) helium shell explosions on white dwarfs that likely represent the fates of helium accreting white dwarfs. This thesis helps set the stage for a systematic exploration of the local stellar graveyard utilizing the rich landscape of multi-wavelength all-sky surveys in conjunction with gravitational wave detectors.

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