Time Domain Astrophysics

This initiative will be a two-year program involving early career scientists from astronomy, astrophysics and computational science interested in pursuing collaborative, high-risk, highly impactful discovery research in Time Domain Astrophysics.

Scialog 2016 Time Domain Astrophysics

2016 Scialog: Time Domain Astrophysics [PDF 541K]
2015 & 2016 Scialog Fellows [PDF 74KB]
2016 Scialog Conference Participant Information [PDF 270KB]

The purpose of Scialog: Time Domain Astrophysics: Stars and Explosions is to bring together theorists, observers and computational scientists to identify critical lines of inquiry needed to maximally exploit synoptic optical surveys. The hope is to identify highly innovative high-risk/high-reward research that would benefit the most from current optical facilities and set the stage to maximize the benefit of new facilities, such as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) which is planned to be commissioned by 2022. We expect this research to include the development of novel theoretical, observational or computational approaches and collaborations.

We are already in the era of Time Domain Astrophysics (TDA). This is certainly true in optical astronomy and all indications are that radio astronomy will undergo great growth within a few years. TDA, as a methodology, encompasses a vast range of astronomy fields: supernovae, optical transients, binary stars, active stars, planets around stars, asteroseismology, solar system objects and the search for matter via micro-lensing. In order to focus this Scialog within the wide swath of astronomy encompassed by TDA, the emphasis will be on optical TDA yielding insights primarily on stellar astrophysics and explosive outcomes. However, we anticipate that scientists from other areas will participate and overlapping research interests will be identified.

While TDA facilities have increased data production by many orders of magnitude (and will continue to do so), data production is merely the first step. Discoveries and findings depend on our ability to digest these large data sets and develop novel algorithms to make real time decisions as to where to focus precious follow-up resources. Theory must also be engaged, both to predict possibilities, but also to aid in physical interpretations of newly revealed phenomena and suggest new lines of research. Scialog: Time Domain Astrophysics: Stars and Explosions is intended to empower early career theorists, observers and computational scientists to pursue research that will realize the full potential of this new mode of astrophysical research.

Scialog aims to encourage collaborations among theorists, observers and computational scientists. We encourage approaches that are driven by theory and testable by observations. We hope to spark collaborations that embrace modeling at the big-picture level and observational work that investigates the predictions of such modeling and ignites new theoretical investigations. We want to catalyze the development of a community in which theory and observation mutually work together to achieve understanding of fundamental phenomena uncovered by the methodology of TDA.

Two Scialog conferences, in fall 2015 and 2016, are planned for this initiative. The conferences will be attended by about 40 early career Scialog Fellows and 10 distinguished senior scientists, with the goal of identifying bottlenecks, finding avenues for breakthroughs, and building new scientific teams to pursue these ideas. The highly interactive conference format includes a limited number of keynote presentations to outline the outstanding research challenges, and small group discussions to encourage participant interactions. Scialog Fellows have the opportunity to form teams and write collaborative proposals “on-the-spot” to seed highly innovative ideas that emerge from the dialog. We anticipate supporting up to four awards per meeting. 

The first Scialog conference for this initiative is scheduled October 22-25, 2015 at Biosphere 2 near Tucson, Arizona. Keynote speakers for the first conference include: 

Lars Bildsten,Director, Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara

Shrinivas Kulkarni FRS, Professor of Astrophysics and Planetary ScienceCalifornia Institute of Technology

Participation in Time Domain Astrophysics: Stars and Explosions is by invitation.