What Peculiar Transients Can Teach Us About Stellar Evolution and Stellar Death

Mon, September 21, 2015

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Multi-wavelength observations of supernovae not only probe the explosion mechanism, but also carry information about the configuration of the star at the moment of collapse and the mass-loss history of the progenitor system in the years immediately preceding its death. The study of supernovae therefore offers us one of our only observational views of the final stages of stellar evolution. As a result, the discovery by wide-field dedicated surveys of new classes of astronomical transients at an ever-increasing rate has both expanded the types of stellar systems that we can directly probe and challenged some of our existing views of how these uncertain final stages proceed.  In this talk I will discuss several types of new and peculiar astronomical transients and what their properties and intrinsic rates are teaching us about stellar evolution and stellar death.