How Effective will the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope be for Studying Supernovae?
Supernovae are the explosive death of stars. From Earth we see these cataclysmic events as single stars that nearly outshine all of the other stars in their host galaxy before fading away. By observing this event, we can better understand the life and death of stars. The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), a new ground-based telescope currently under construction, has the potential to discover a large, paradigm-altering sample of supernovae. We quantified LSST’s ability to provide sufficient sampling of the supernova light curve (the brightening and fading of the supernova with time), dependent on cadence and data quality, in order to constrain the physics behind these stellar explosions. We used LSST’s simulation of the current proposed observing strategy to investigate how the telescope would observe the brightness of a supernova over time with respect to the supernova’s location in the sky and the time at which the supernova occurred during the survey. Our results thus far indicate that a low percentage of supernovae would be observed sufficiently to extract meaningful physical parameters, suggesting that improvements could be made to the observing strategy.