Nearby Supernova Factory

The Nearby Supernova Factory (SNfactory) is an experiment designed to collect data on more Type Ia supernovae than has ever been studied in a single project before, and in so doing, to answer some fundamental questions about the nature of the universe. Type Ia supernovae are extraordinarily bright, remarkably uniform objects that make excellent “standard candles” for measuring the expansion rate of the universe. However, such stellar explosions are very rare, occurring only a couple of times per millennium in a typical galaxy, and remaining bright enough to detect only for a few weeks. Previous studies of Type Ia supernovae led to the discovery of the mysterious “dark energy” that is causing the universe to expand at an accelerating rate.

To reduce the statistical uncertainties in previous experimental data, extensive spectral and photometric monitoring of more Type Ia supernovae is required. The SNfactory collaboration built an automated system consisting of specialized software and custom-built hardware that systematically searches the sky for new supernovae, screens potential candidates, and then performs multiple spectral and photometric observations on each supernova. These observations will be stored in a database to be made available to supernova researchers worldwide for further study and analysis.

Specifically, SNfactory developed a collaborative visual analytics software system to provide distributed access, management, visualization, and analysis of supernova data. Sunfall (the SUperNova Factory Assembly Line) is the SNfactory software framework architecture developed by SNfactory scientists and software engineers in collaboration with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Visualization Group. Sunfall integrates SNfactory software tools, including the search pipeline, scanning software, remote-observing tools, supernova candidate scheduler, and distributed, remote access to the supernova catalog database.



University of Edinburgh’s Management School
Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre
Lancaster University Management School

Lawrence Berkeley National Lab
Yale University Department of Physics

Centre de Recherche Astronomique de Lyon
Institut de Physique Nucleaire de Lyon
Laboratoire de Physique Nucleaire et de Hautes Energies