October 21, 2013
In June of this year, supernova iPTF13bvn, surprised astrophysicists by revealing its parentage. To date, Type Ib supernovae have appeared to come from nowhere. Type Ib supernovae explosions appear in surveys, but a search back through the archived data has so far resulted in no evidence of a progenitor, likely because they are simply too faint. A recently documented search for progenitors on a dozen Type Ib supernovae resulted in a dozen non-detections.
Texas Tech astrophysicist Dr David Sand, who designed and implemented the robotic FLOYDS spectrograph, while working at LCOGT, points out that without FLOYDS, key data would have been missed. "This supernova was discovered when the moon was almost full. Because observing in the optical is very difficult when the moon is so bright, most telescopes in the world are configured to observe In the infrared. FLOYDS is on the telescope all of the time, and since it is robotic, we can get data at any time."