Supernovae are the very luminous explosive deaths of massive stars. In this project, we search for the most distant supernovae in the universe, called superluminous supernovae, using the largest telescopes in the world and in space.
The program started in 2006 and is being led by Associate Professor Jeff Cooke at Swinburne in collaboration with students, universities and institutes all over the world.
What we want to achieve
As we look further out into space, we look further back in time because the light those objects emit takes time to travel those great distances to reach us here on earth.
The supernovae we discover are so distant, that they occurred very far back in time, just after the Big Bang. As a result, we are able to see the deaths of the very first generation of stars that formed after the Big Bang.
We study these events because the physical mechanisms that produce that enormous amount of energy are unknown. This work also helps us understand the conditions in the very early universe, because superluminous supernovae are perhaps our only means to probe those early times due to their brightness. They also help us understand how all the elements were formed over cosmic time.
Furthermore, studying these events helps us measure the expansion rate of the universe back in those early times, which help us understand the history of the universe and how all structure formed.
The universe is 13.8 billion years old and to date all the supernovae that have occurred 10.5 billion years ago and earlier have been discovered by our team.