FLASH Talks: Aaron Tohuvavohu (University of Toronto) & Dániel Apai (Steward)

Friday, 05 May 2023 noon — 1 p.m. MST

NOIRLab Headquarters | 950 North Cherry Ave., Tucson, AZ 85719

Aaron Tohuvavohu (University of Toronto) & Dániel Apai (Steward)
Aaron Tohuvavohu, University of Toronto
Seeing into the immediate post-merger environment of a neutron star merger 
The rich EM phenomenology in the first few hours after a compact object merger encodes the nature of the post-merger remnant, the neutron star equation of state, the velocity distribution of the fastest moving ejecta, and a wide array of other compelling physics. Unfortunately, the requirement to search, find, and classify a counterpart within the large GW localization regions before targeted follow-up with sensitive instruments can begin, excludes access to these first few hours, even for the most well localized GW sources. The ability to promptly localize a GW source to within the field-of-view of a narrow field sensitive facility, would enable extraordinary science. I will discuss the science cases that require extremely early time observations, and the coordination, instruments, and infrastructure necessary to achieve it. These include all-sky GRB imagers with arcminute localization capabilities, novel gamma-ray analysis techniques, early warning GW detection, fast response space telescopes, and the infrastructure to coordinate them.
Daniel Apai, University of Arizona
A Quantitative Framework for Exoplanet Habitability for the Habitable Worlds Observatory and Other Missions
The search for life in the Solar System and beyond is rapidly emerging as a key science driver in planetary science and astrophysics. 
A critical step in this search is the identification and characterization of potential habitats, both to guide the search and to interpret observations. A well-accepted, flexible terminology for habitability is, however, still lacking. This poses a challenge to the progress toward new observatories and may complicate science requirements and strategy definition for major missions and surveys. To advance the field toward a consensus framework, the NExSS Quantitative Habitability Science Working Group identified use cases and requirements for a system of terms to support working with habitability and habitat suitability. In this talk, I will review some past and current attempts to work with and quantify habitability, including the different contexts and uses in the literature. I will also present the current status of our work and the emerging terminology and methodology for quantitative habitability assessment, in support of upcoming observations, solar system missions, and exoplanet surveys for potential habitats of extraterrestrial life.