Catching Stars in the Act of Dying
Anthony L. Piro
Carnegie Observatories

Supernovae are amazing cosmic explosions where for a few weeks to months a single star can become as bright as a billion stars combined. Even though supernovae are crucial to a wide range of areas in astrophysics, from producing the elements to galactic evolution to measuring the accelerating expansion of our Universe, the actual progenitors are frustratingly elusive in many cases. Recent advances in wide field surveys have allowed us to catch supernovae right at the moment of explosion, providing a window into these events that has never before been available. I will discuss new theoretical work that utilizes this unique information in a variety of different scenarios to measure fundamental properties of the stars, such as their mass, radius, and probe their surprising violent activity right before death.