Gaia is the cornerstone mission of the European Space Agency, successfully launched in December 2013. Its main goal is to map the entire Galaxy, but thanks to repetitive observations of the entire sky it also acts as a unique time-domain space survey, suitable for real-time detections of transients. In recent years the astronomy of transient phenomena has became a very vivid area of research. Gaia will join numerous current large-scale surveys like PTF, PANSTARRS, CRTS, SkyMapper, OGLE, LOFAR, which are aiming at delivering transient objects corresponding to a wide range of astrophysical phenomena, from solar system objects, through new types of stellar variability and signatures of exoplanets, to supernovae and orphan Gamma Ray Bursts. However, without prompt and appropriate follow-up observations, much of the scientific potential of these new discoveries will be lost. It becomes crucial for transient astronomy that the new phenomena are rapidly observed with small and medium size telescopes and the data are analysed quickly to share the knowledge.
Gaia Science Alerts Workshops (GSAW) has been organised annually since 2010. The main goal has been, first, to keep the astronomical community informed and updated about the progress of the preparation and eventually the operation of the alert detection procedures within the Gaia data processing pipeline. The workshops have acted as a platform for sharing experience from researching into diverse transient phenomena, including supernovae, tidal disruption events, cataclysmic variables, microlensing events, young stellar objects, R Corona Borealis-type stars and others. The workshops have also helped us to organise a network of follow-up observatories, comprising of small and medium-sized telescopes from around the globe.
All those goals are also to be achieved in the 2014 edition of the GSAW, however, the main difference this year is that we now have the Gaia satellite successfully launched and operational! By the time of the workshop in September, the mission should commence its nominal operation and we expect to have some first alerts already detected and published to the astronomical community. We should also have some first results to show and discuss from the extensive alerts verification campaign, which are currently being arranged on numerous spectroscopic and photometric facilities around the world. In September the mission should be well on track and there should be already some understanding on its performance, especially based on the commissioning period during which the Ecliptic Poles would be observed. At the workshop we will also hear the news from currently on-going transient surveys in their multi-wavelength and multi-messenger range and on their potential synergy with Gaia.
The topics of the workshop this year include:
- Status of Gaia
- First Alerts and preliminary results from the Verification Phase
- Gaia alerts follow-up campaigns
- Science with Gaia transients: Supernovae, Microlensing, Novae, TDEs, CVs, YSOs
- Current/planned multi-wavelength transient surveys and synergy