Update on SNEWS Campaign

"Light curve and finder chart of ksi Cyg, on top of an antique star chart"
Above: The light curve of ksi Cyg was derived from the contributions of 11 observers. Inset: ksi Cyg Finder chart. Photo illustration by the author.


Participation is growing in this exciting pro-am collaboration, but there are still stars to be claimed. | By Tim Lyster

The launch announcement of a professional-amateur collaboration appeared in a forum post on October 13, 2023: “AAVSO is partnering with the SuperNova Early Warning System (SNEWS) team to create a new campaign centered around supernova progenitors. The goal is to keep track of bright stars that have the potential to go supernova reasonably soon so that we have a record of the star leading up to such a monumental event.”

Alert Notice 836 followed the same day.

AAVSO staff astronomer Bert Pablo compiled a list of 192 stars for observers to track. He noted, “the truth is that we don't know exactly what stars will go supernova and that’s part of the problem. Close supernovae are extremely rare, and we typically have no data on them before the supernova happens and that’s what we hope to correct as time goes along.”

To maximize participation and streamline the process, George Silvis, who is coordinating the project for the AAVSO, developed the idea of having the organization’s remote telescope network, AAVSOnet, observe the entire cadre of stellar candidates. From December 11, observers were invited to subscribe to a selection of stars of their choosing to receive and process images, and derive light curves as they came in.

Progress by the Numbers

Six months into the project, progress has been significant. Some 180 of 192 (94%) of the candidate stars have been “claimed;” 173 (85%) are being monitored using AAVSOnet and 107 (55%) by backyard telescopes. Of those under scrutiny, 77 stars have been imaged (inclement weather has caused some delay), and observers have submitted data for 59 stars to the AAVSO International Database.

This means that 5%—12 stars—have yet to be claimed. Consider this post a call to action. Background information, relevant links, instructions on how to sign up and submit observations, tips for observers, and are available on a dedicated campaign page.