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AR 15005 (Archival Research)

Sun Jul 14 10:29:51 GMT 2024

Principal Investigator: Howard Bond
PI Institution: The Pennsylvania State University
Investigators (xml)

Title: Archival Investigation of Outburst Sites and Progenitors of Extragalactic Intermediate-Luminosity Mid-IR Transients
Cycle: 25

Abstract
Our team is using Spitzer in a long-term search for extragalactic mid-infrared (MIR) variable stars and transients--the SPIRITS project (SPitzer InfraRed Intensive Transients Survey). In this first exploration of luminous astrophysical transients in the infrared, we have discovered a puzzling new class. We call them SPRITEs: eSPecially Red Intermediate-luminosity Transient Events. They have maximum MIR luminosities between supernovae and classical novae, but are not detected in the optical to deep limits. To date, we have discovered more than 50 SPRITEs in galaxies out to ~17 Mpc. In this Archival Research proposal, we request support in order to investigate the pre-eruption sites in HST images of some 3 dozen SPRITEs discovered to date, and an additional ~2 dozen that we are likely to find until the end of Spitzer observing in late 2018. Our aims are (1) characterize the pre-outburst environments at HST resolution in the visible and near-IR, to understand the stellar populations, stellar ages and masses, and interstellar medium at the outburst sites; (2) search for progenitors; (3) help prepare the way for a better understanding of the nature of extragalactic IR transients that will be investigated by JWST.