Institution(s): 1. University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
The SPIRITS (SPitzer InfraRed Intensive Transients Survey) project has surveyed 242 galaxies across multiple epochs for over a year, searching for gap transient and variable star activity. To date, a wealth of candidate objects has been discovered in the warm Spitzer data being used, with the current total at 1426 individual detections. The discovery, confirmation, follow-up, and comparison to prediction rates of these candidates is presented. Employing subjective detection methods, discussed herein, individual discovery to group confirmation rates were found to be less than 3.6%. Photometric confirmation with correlated team instruments left 53 sources of interest remaining for further study. These targets ranged across 30 different galaxies including IC2163, Messier 101, and NGC3198. Follow-up ground observations in the 1.2, 1.6, and 2.2 µm wavelengths with the legacy 2MASS instrument at MLOF (Mount Lemmon Observing Facility) are highlighted. The data reduction process which has evolved to improve detections by ~.6mag is also detailed. These results are supplemented by SPIRITS team input from a variety of world-class infrared facilities to produce overall nova candidate characteristics, which are included. In some cases this extends to light curves from confirmed and observed novae to depths of ~20mag, while in others it is restricted to limiting magnitudes of ~18 at sight of occurrence (the true “ghosts” of SPIRITS). Candidate novae have been separated into classes where data allows, including the possible discovery of a new variable type coined SMIRTS (Super Massive InfraRed TransientS), and probable members of the elusive Luminous Red Novae category. Finally, comparison of numerical survey results to nova prediction rates is undertaken and results presented. Where deviations from luminosity curve fittings occur, such as in the overly active M81 and IC0342 galaxies, possible causes are proposed.