Research

The Swope Supernova Survey is a low-redshift, imaging, follow-up survey of astrophysical transients using the 1-m Swope telescope at Las Campanas Observatory, Chile, since mid-2016, with all the observed supernovae proceeding from untargeted surveys.

This survey follows many different kinds of transients for a variety of goals, such as tidal disruption events, gravitational wave follow-up, among many others (resulting in 24 publications which I co-author). However, the  majority of survey time is dedicated to Type Ia supernova observations for cosmological analyses and supernova physics. The observations are performed in six different photometric bands (uBVgri, from ∼3200 to ∼8200 Angstroms), one of the most complete wavelength coverage of low-redshift transient surveys.

Due to substantial telescope time allocated (around 170 nights per year), we are building a large, high-cadence, multi-band Type Ia supernova sample. I have been in charge of managing the survey operations, data reduction and telescope calibration for the last three years. With this unique data set, we will produce very precise measurements of w, the dark energy equation-of-state parameter. More details of the survey and the first data release will be presented in an upcoming paper this year (Rojas-Bravo et al., in prep.).

As part of the Swope Supernova Survey, we made the first discovery of the optical counterpart of the neutron star merger detected by LIGO on August 17, 2017. The journals Science and Physics World selected the neutron star merger discovery as the 2017 Scientific Breakthrough of the Year.

Additionally, I’m part of the Young Supernova Experiment (YSE),  a new time-domain survey using the Pan-STARRS  telescopes in Hawaii, designed to obtained high-cadence griz supernova light-curves up to z<0.2. YSE’s survey goals, overview, and operations are described in the following paper.

In 2016, I co-wrote a paper on gamma-ray detection from star-forming galaxies using Fermi-LAT data. The article was published in the journal MNRAS, and can be found here. I presented this article as an oral contribution in the 6th Heidelberg International Symposium on High-Energy Gamma-Ray Astronomy in Heidelberg, Germany, in July 2016.

Finally, I’m very passionate about the History of Astronomy, and the History of Science in general.