An international team of scientists has unveiled an AI tool named Bright Transient Survey Bot (BTSbot), which marks a significant advancement in the discovery of supernovae. This tool is unique in being the first AI that can fully automate the process of identifying supernovae without human involvement.
The innovation of BTSbot removes the element of human error, thus enhancing the speed and efficiency in the search for supernovae. Trained with 1.4 million images from almost 16,000 sources, the tool, in turn, leaves researchers with ample time for in-depth analysis and the development of fresh hypotheses.
BTSbot has already proven its worth by detecting the supernova SN2023tyk in data from the Zwicky Transient Facility (ZTF). This particular supernova was spotted in ZTF data on October 5, and within two days it was confirmed and classified as a Type Ia supernova. It's clear that this groundbreaking AI tool has taken a significant step towards automating and streamlining supernova discovery.
Traditional Supernova Detection vs. BTSbot
Traditionally, the detection of supernovae leaned heavily on astronomers manually inspecting large volumes of data for new light sources. But with BTSbot, it will no longer be necessary for scientists to spend time on this task, making the workflow more efficient.
During the process of identifying a potential supernova, BTSbot directed the Spectral Energy Distribution Machine (SEDM) to observe it and gather its spectrum. This spectrum was then sent to Caltech's SNIascore for classification. SNIascore is a system developed by Christoffer Fremling which adds one more layer of automation to the entire process.
The Future of Night Sky Scanning
The integration of BTSbot and other automated methods could revolutionize the scanning of the night sky. This could potentially lead to the discovery of a significant number of new supernovae. More importantly, these AI systems can function independently, giving astronomers the freedom to focus on interpreting data and gaining deeper insights into the evolution of stars and galaxies.