Since the 1930's astronomers have speculated that the collapse of a core of a massive star might be the mechanism that generates some of the massive stellar explosions known as supernovae. This hypothesis was confirmed by the detection of neutrinos from a relatively nearby supernova in 1987. However, little is known about the death throes of such a massive star in the brief period of time before the core collapses under the force of gravity. Fortunately in a space-based mission to observe exoplanet transits, the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS), happened to detect a supernova, SN2020fqv, that is now giving us an unprecedented view into the behavior of a massive star immediately prior to the collapse of it's core. In this talk we will discuss the theory of how massive stars evolve and die and what observations of SN2020fqv are telling us about the death throes of such stars.
Prof. Swesty received his PhD in Physics from SUNY Stony Brook in 1993. He spent six years at the University of Illinois as a postdoctoral researcher and as a Visiting Assistant Professor. He returned to Stony Brook in 1999 where he is currently a Research Associate Professor. His work focuses on nuclear astrophysics and computational astrophysics.