Wide-field optical time-domain surveys like Pan-STARRS and PTF provide an opportunity to discover and decipher new types of transients. One such discovery in the past decade is a new class of “superluminous” supernovae (SLSNe), which have bolometric luminosities 10-100 times those of normal core-collapse and Type Ia SN and spectra that do not match known supernova classes. These SLSNe represent a challenge to our understanding of the deaths of massive stars, the mechanism for powering optical emission in SNe, and to the standard core-collapse picture. In this talk, I will present results from the Pan-STARRS1 survey, which has discovered ~20 SLSNe out to redshift 1.6 in its four years of operation. I will address the nature of SLSNe from two angles: 1) by characterizing the explosions themselves and comparing the observed properties to model predictions, and 2) by constraining the progenitor population through a comprehensive study of SLSN host galaxy environments.
Host: Anna Frebel