Seminar: The Palomar Transient Factory

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Astrophysics is transforming from a data-starved to a data-swamped discipline, fundamentally changing the nature of scientific inquiry and discovery. New technologies are enabling the detection, transmission, and storage of data of hitherto unimaginable quantity and quality across the electromagnetic, gravity and particle spectra. The observational data obtained during this decade alone will supersede everything accumulated over the preceding four thousand years of astronomy. Currently there are 4 large-scale photometric and spectroscopic surveys underway, each generating and/or utilizing hundreds of terabytes of data per year. Some will focus on the static universe while others will greatly expand our knowledge of transient phenomena. Maximizing the science from these programs requires integrating the processing pipeline with high-performance computing resources. These are coupled to large astrophysics databases while making use of machine learning algorithms with near real-time turnaround. Here I will present an overview of one of these programs, the PalomarTransient Factory (PTF). I will cover the processing and discovery pipeline we developed at LBNL and NERSC for it, several of the great discoveries made during the 7 years of observations, and where we are headed with a new facility, Zwicky Transient Facility starting August 2017, which will be an order of magnitude faster.


Date: Feb 17, 2017
Time: 11am PST / 2pm EST
Location: 6th floor Large Conference Room, Information Sciences Institute, Marina del Rey, CA, USA

Peter Nugent, Ph.D. (LBNL)

Peter Nugent is a Senior Staff Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the Computational Research Division and an Adjunct Professor of Astronomy at UC Berkeley. Nugent attended Bowdoin College and received his M.S. and Ph.D. in physics with a concentration in astronomy from the University of Oklahoma. He joined Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 1996 as a postdoctoral fellow working with Saul Perlmutter on the measurement of the accelerating universe with Type Ia Supernova, for which Dr. Perlmutter received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2011. He currently runs the largest astrophysical transient discovery pipeline created to-date, the Palomar Transient Factory (PTF). Nugent is an author of over 240 refereed publications and has thousands of supernova discoveries to his name.

Dr. Nugent has presented his work as a participant on PBS News Hour, NASA's Space Science Update program, CNN, NOVA, NPR, and the BBC. His work has been featured in Time, Newsweek, Science and Nature.