This award will support an observational project to investigate the progenitor stars of supernova explosions. Theory and observations currently suggest two possibilities: close binaries with two white dwarfs that merge through the loss of angular momentum, or close binaries with one white dwarf gathering mass from a companion star. The latter are observationally detected as recurrent novae, symbiotic stars, or supersoft X-ray sources. This project has two parts. The first part will search supernovae remnants in the nearby Large Magellanic Cloud (a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way) for remnants that survived after the supernova explosion; in the scenario involving two white dwarfs, no remnant star would be detected. The second part of this project is to test whether recurrent novae could be supernova progenitors by studying these novae during and after their eruptions, especially to detect orbital period changes.
The problem of supernova progenitors is important as a test for stellar evolution theory and for the use of supernovae to explore the evolution of the universe's expansion through time.