Transient astrophysical phenomena

Transients refer to astronomical phenomena with durations of fractions of a second to weeks or years. Typically they are extreme, short-lived events associated with the total or partial destruction of an astrophysical object.  The events can generate emission at all or specific wavelengths both in electromagnetic radiation and gravitational waves.  They can appear to be extremely bright and can be observed over cosmological distances.

Latest Research and Reviews

  • Research |

    A rare type of supernova—triggered by the collapse of a rapidly rotating single star—could have provided more than 80 per cent of the r-process elements in the Universe.

    • Daniel M. Siegel
    • , Jennifer Barnes
    •  & Brian D. Metzger
    Nature 569, 241-244
  • Research |

    Using large-aperture Cherenkov telescopes, Benbow et al. have measured the angular sizes of two stars through timely occultations by asteroids, achieving an order of magnitude improvement in resolution over the lunar occultation method.

    • W. Benbow
    • , R. Bird
    • , A. Brill
    • , R. Brose
    • , A. J. Chromey
    • , M. K. Daniel
    • , Q. Feng
    • , J. P. Finley
    • , L. Fortson
    • , A. Furniss
    • , G. H. Gillanders
    • , C. Giuri
    • , O. Gueta
    • , D. Hanna
    • , J. P. Halpern
    • , T. Hassan
    • , J. Holder
    • , G. Hughes
    • , T. B. Humensky
    • , A. M. Joyce
    • , P. Kaaret
    • , P. Kar
    • , N. Kelley-Hoskins
    • , M. Kertzman
    • , D. Kieda
    • , M. Krause
    • , M. J. Lang
    • , T. T. Y. Lin
    • , G. Maier
    • , N. Matthews
    • , P. Moriarty
    • , R. Mukherjee
    • , D. Nieto
    • , M. Nievas-Rosillo
    • , S. O’Brien
    • , R. A. Ong
    • , N. Park
    • , A. Petrashyk
    • , M. Pohl
    • , E. Pueschel
    • , J. Quinn
    • , K. Ragan
    • , P. T. Reynolds
    • , G. T. Richards
    • , E. Roache
    • , C. Rulten
    • , I. Sadeh
    • , M. Santander
    • , G. H. Sembroski
    • , K. Shahinyan
    • , I. Sushch
    • , S. P. Wakely
    • , R. M. Wells
    • , P. Wilcox
    • , A. Wilhelm
    • , D. A. Williams
    •  & T. J. Williamson
    Nature Astronomy 3, 511-516
  • Research |

    Observations of an X-ray transient associated with a galaxy at redshift 0.738 suggest that the X-ray transient is powered by a millisecond magnetar and that it is the remnant of a merger between two neutron stars.

    • Y. Q. Xue
    • , X. C. Zheng
    • , Y. Li
    • , W. N. Brandt
    • , B. Zhang
    • , B. Luo
    • , B.-B. Zhang
    • , F. E. Bauer
    • , H. Sun
    • , B. D. Lehmer
    • , X.-F. Wu
    • , G. Yang
    • , X. Kong
    • , J. Y. Li
    • , M. Y. Sun
    • , J.-X. Wang
    •  & F. Vito
    Nature 568, 198-201
  • Research |

    In this work, more than fifty late-time nebular spectra of stripped-envelope supernovae are studied in order to understand more about the massive-star progenitors of these objects. Type Ib and IIb progenitors are largely indistinguishable; type Ic progenitors likely have more massive carbon–oxygen cores.

    • Qiliang Fang
    • , Keiichi Maeda
    • , Hanindyo Kuncarayakti
    • , Fengwu Sun
    •  & Avishay Gal-Yam
    Nature Astronomy 3, 434-439
  • Research |

    Multi-epoch observations of a supernova associated with a γ-ray burst reveal spectral features at extremely high expansion velocities within the first day after the burst, indicative of a choked jet.

    • L. Izzo
    • , A. de Ugarte Postigo
    • , K. Maeda
    • , C. C. Thöne
    • , D. A. Kann
    • , M. Della Valle
    • , A. Sagues Carracedo
    • , M. J. Michałowski
    • , P. Schady
    • , S. Schmidl
    • , J. Selsing
    • , R. L. C. Starling
    • , A. Suzuki
    • , K. Bensch
    • , J. Bolmer
    • , S. Campana
    • , Z. Cano
    • , S. Covino
    • , J. P. U. Fynbo
    • , D. H. Hartmann
    • , K. E. Heintz
    • , J. Hjorth
    • , J. Japelj
    • , K. Kamiński
    • , L. Kaper
    • , C. Kouveliotou
    • , M. Krużyński
    • , T. Kwiatkowski
    • , G. Leloudas
    • , A. J. Levan
    • , D. B. Malesani
    • , T. Michałowski
    • , S. Piranomonte
    • , G. Pugliese
    • , A. Rossi
    • , R. Sánchez-Ramírez
    • , S. Schulze
    • , D. Steeghs
    • , N. R. Tanvir
    • , K. Ulaczyk
    • , S. D. Vergani
    •  & K. Wiersema
    Nature 565, 324-327

News and Comment

  • Comments and Opinion |

    Until now, radio astronomers had to choose between sensitivity or field of view. The new Apertif system provides both, enabling studies of low-mass galaxies, galaxy interactions and fast radio bursts, write Betsey Adams and Joeri van Leeuwen.

    • Elizabeth A. K. Adams
    •  & Joeri van Leeuwen
  • News and Views |

    Since the discovery of the first repeating fast radio burst in 2016, debate has raged over whether it represented a distinct population. With the recent detection of a second repeater using CHIME, the debate is closer to being settled.

    • Emily Petroff
    Nature Astronomy 3, 133-134
  • News and Views |

    The degree of polarization of gamma-ray bursts seems to be lower than previously thought. Gamma-ray polarimetry can reveal the emission mechanism and physical information inside the relativistic jet.

    • Daisuke Yonetoku
    Nature Astronomy 3, 200-201
  • Comments and Opinion |

    Palomar Gattini-IR is the first of a number of infrared transient surveyors that will search the skies nightly, looking for ephemeral phenomena such as novae, supernovae and neutron star merger events, explain Co-lead Researchers Anna Moore and Mansi Kasliwal.

    • Anna M. Moore
    •  & Mansi M. Kasliwal