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Variables and Transients. The exciting parts of the universe. Sydney Institute for Astronomy ( SIfA )/ CAASTRO – The University of Sydney. Dr. Paul Hancock. (and occasionally the Sydney Observatory). Transients are Extreme. Transients include the Brightest Fastest Hottest Most massive

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variables and transients

Variables and Transients

The exciting parts of the universe

Sydney Institute for Astronomy (SIfA)/ CAASTRO – The University of Sydney

Dr. Paul Hancock

(and occasionally the Sydney Observatory)

transients are extreme
Transients are Extreme
  • Transients include the
    • Brightest
    • Fastest
    • Hottest
    • Most massive
    • Most magnetized
  • events in the universe.
  • (also the weirdest)
bright objects are useful
Bright objects are useful

the cosmic distance ladder
The cosmic distance ladder


J. Hartman (Harvard CfA) & K. Stanek (Ohio State U.)

brighter than a cephied
Brighter than a Cephied

type ia supernovae
Type Ia Supernovae



testing relativity
Testing relativity

Cumulative shift of periastron time (seconds)


invisible gas in the milky way
(Invisible) Gas in the Milky Way

Moniez, 2003, A&A, 412, 105

Susan Stolovy (SSC/Caltech) et al., JPL-Caltech, NASA

probing interstellar gas
Probing Interstellar Gas

Feidler et al. 1994ApJ...430..581F

Maitia et al. 2003ApJ...582..972M

stellar evolution simple
Stellar evolution (simple)

stellar interactions
Stellar interactions

David Hardy/PPARC

flaring stars
Flaring stars


painting by Don Dixon for Scientific American

  • Transients and Variables offer us a unique probe of the universe
  • Supernovae and variables stars allow us to measure distances
  • Pulsars allow us to test general relativity
  • Scintillation allows us to see invisible gas in the Milky Way
  • Novae, and active stars allow us to understand the life cycle of stars
  • Tidal disruption events allow us to study accretion disks and jets
what are we doing now to find transients
What are we doing now to find transients?
  • Optical
    • PTF / SkyMapper
  • Radio
  • X-ray/γ-ray
    • Swift/Fermi
current optical surveys
Current Optical Surveys

high energy surveys
High energy surveys

current radio surveys
Current Radio Surveys

Top-foto, Assen

upcoming radio surveys
Upcoming Radio Surveys


KAT-7 / MeerKAT - Terrace Photographers - MaikWolleben

  • We have many surveys and telescopes that can find transients
  • The new surveys will give us a better understanding of the universe
  • The new surveys produce MUCH more data than we have had before
  • We need new ways to collect, organize and analyze the data
  • We are now entering the era of "Time domain astronomy" and there will be many new and exciting discoveries over the next decade.