Superluminous supernovae are a relatively new (discovered during the last decade) type of supernova explosion up to 10-100 times brighter than “conventional” supernovae. What causes these explosions remains unknown. This project aims to study the environments where these explosions take place by studying the degree of interaction between the galaxies where they occur. Galaxies often interact between them and sometimes merge creating larger galaxies (our own Milky Way is in a collision course with the Andromeda galaxy in the far future). These interactions can dramatically increase the rate with which stars are born and explode as supernovae. There is a suspicion that the fraction of interaction is elevated among the galaxies of superluminous supernovae and this can be related to the production of these mysterious events, but this has never been studied systematically. The student(s) will work with real astronomical data, both space-based (primarily from the Hubble Space Telescope) and ground-based, and will try to determine how often the host galaxies of superluminous supernovae show signs of merger and interaction. The student(s) will be trained in the use of dedicated software for the analysis of astronomical images. This project includes the possibility of participating in a publication including the outcome of the report.
Astrophysics 30120. Some knowledge of Linux is an advantage.