Nov 18, 2021
This week we are excited to welcome CalTech graduate student Dillon Dong to the WSH. Dillon was the lead investigator in a study that determined that a bright radio flare discovered in data collected by the Very Large Array (VLA) Sky Survey in 2017 was the result of a black hole or neutron star crashing into its companion star in a never-before-seen process.
You can learn more about this study and its surprising results here: https://www.caltech.edu/about/news/a-black-hole-triggers-a-premature-supernova
Dillon Dong is a final year graduate student working on finding and characterizing astronomical sources that appear and disappear on human timescales. For his Ph.D thesis, he cataloged 1.5 million radio sources in the largest high-resolution radio sky survey to date: the Very Large Array Sky Survey. By looking for sources that were not detected (but should have been) in historical observations, he discovered >1000 sources that have newly appeared in the radio sky. One of these sources was a never-before-seen type of supernova, caused by the merger of a black hole or neutron star with its massive star companion. This explosion was published in the journal Science, and received press coverage in 40+ countries.
You can learn more about Dillon and his research on his website: https://dillon-z-dong.github.io/
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