16 Jul Kavli–IAU Transients 2020 Workshop Produces Multi-Messenger and Transient Astronomy White Paper
In February 2020 a Kavli–IAU Workshop took place at the South African Astronomical Observatory in Cape Town, South Africa. Its focus was the future of multi-messenger and transient astronomy and the importance of international coordination in this context. A White Paper has now been drawn up summarising the discussions that took place and the resulting recommendations for how to fulfil the full scientific potential in the 2020s and beyond.
Many remarkable astronomical discoveries having recently been made through the coordinated detection of electromagnetic waves, gravitational waves and neutrinos, the use of multi-messenger and transient astronomy to explore the Universe has flourished. Additionally, the ongoing development of new and existing astronomical facilities will offer even greater capacity for such exploration.
To fully capitalise on the continually-improving technology available, a new level of international coordination will be essential. In light of this, the IAU Executive Committee Working Group on Global Coordination of Ground and Space Astrophysics convened a five-day workshop on this theme with the generous support of the Kavli Foundation. 50 people from 18 countries participated in the discussions, which centred around existing and potential bottlenecks for transient and multi-messenger astronomy. Eight broad areas of concern were identified, and they are set out in this White Paper.
Some of them are very similar to the challenges faced by many astronomers engaging in international collaboration, such as data-access policies, funding, theoretical and computational resources and workforce equity. Others, including alerts, telescope coordination and target-of-opportunity implementation, are strongly linked to the time domain and are therefore particularly challenging for astronomers responding to transients. To address these bottlenecks the White Paper offers thirty-five specific recommendations, some of which are simply starting points and require development. These recommendations are aimed not only at collaborative groups and individuals, but also at the various organisations that are essential to making transient collaborations efficient and effective, including the International Astronomical Union, observatories, projects, scientific journals and funding agencies. The recommendations are intended to help those involved in transient research to develop collaborations with greater impact and more inclusive teams.
Most of the recommendations in the White Paper are associated with one or more named IAU Divisions, Commissions and/or Working Groups. The authors of the paper ask those named to consider whether drafting an IAU Resolution, involving one or more of the recommendations, is desirable. If it is, they should, in liaison with other stakeholders, draft the appropriate wording, for consideration by the next IAU General Assembly (to be held in Busan in the Republic of Korea in August 2021). Note that these drafts should be submitted to the General Secretary six months before the General Assembly (assuming the resolution has no budgetary implications for the IAU).
The IAU is the international astronomical organisation that brings together more than 14 000 professional astronomers from more than 100 countries worldwide. Its mission is to promote and safeguard astronomy in all its aspects, including research, communication, education and development, through international cooperation. The IAU also serves as the internationally recognised authority for assigning designations to celestial bodies and the surface features on them. Founded in 1919, the IAU is the world’s largest professional body for astronomers.
Transients 2020 Co-chair
Cell: +27 73 326 5113
Transients 2020 Co-chair
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Lars Lindberg Christensen
IAU Press Officer
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About the Announcement
Photo of participants in the Transients 2020 Kavli–IAU Workshop