The goal of this project is to carry out a systematic study, from radio to gamma-ray wavelengths, of the progenitors and explosion properties of short- and long-duration gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) -- the most extreme form of astronomical transient phenomena -- and to exploit their intense brightness to study the chemical enrichment of galaxies at unprecedented redshifts. The project will provide a comprehensive set of GRB and host galaxy observations to both determine the nature of GRB progenitors and to probe the high redshift universe. The results will be used to confront theoretical GRB progenitor models, and to uncover the evolution of galaxies and the intergalactic medium at high redshift.
Broader impacts of the work include training of undergraduate and graduate students, and postdocs. The project will introduce the dynamic universe to middle- and high school students across the country, through a new program with the Harvard-Smithsonian MicroObservatory, a network of automated on-line telescopes. The program will enable students to design and execute their own GRB and supernova observations.