Fast radio bursts and superluminous supernovae: a surprising connection?

Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are one of the hottest topics in astrophysics right now. FRBs are millisecond pulses of extraterrestrial radio emission that had us all baffled for most of the last decade. In the past year however, astronomers have discovered the first “repeater” (an FRB source emitting multiple bursts over 4 years and counting), … More Fast radio bursts and superluminous supernovae: a surprising connection?

A star is ripped apart by an already-active black hole

My collaborator Peter Blanchard, a PhD student here at Harvard, has just published the exciting discovery of the tidal disruption of a star in an active galactic nucleus. What does this mean? A tidal disruption event (TDE) occurs when a star passes too close to a supermassive black hole, within the tidal radius where the pull … More A star is ripped apart by an already-active black hole

The most UV-bright supernova is powered by an internal engine

Earlier this year, the Gaia satellite, in the process of mapping out our Milky Way in unprecedented detail, happened to discover its first superluminous supernova (SLSN). This was a great discovery not only because it turned out to be one of the most nearby such events we’ve ever found, but because it was about 5 times brighter … More The most UV-bright supernova is powered by an internal engine

The brightest supernova, or an overindulgent black hole?

Last year, a very unusual transient made headlines around the world as ‘the most luminous supernova ever discovered’. ASASSN-15lh was certainly incredibly bright — about double the previous record holder! However, it exhibited a number of weird properties that made it unlike any other superluminous supernova: a much higher temperature; a spectrum lacking most of the usual absorption … More The brightest supernova, or an overindulgent black hole?

Nebular spectrum of superluminous supernova reveals GRB connection!

Evidence of a connection between superluminous supernovae and the hypernovae that accompany long gamma-ray bursts has been building for a few years now. There was even a whole conference this summer at the Space Telescope Science Institute to discuss it (the vote came out pretty evenly split!). But now we have what seems to be the strongest evidence … More Nebular spectrum of superluminous supernova reveals GRB connection!