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First Successful Robotic Searches For Supernovae

Lick Observatory, CA

Starting in the late-1980s, detailed measurements of the properties of exploding stars (supernovae) by UC astronomer Alex Filippenko were crucial to the development of methods to calibrate them. This contributed substantially to the 1998 discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe, probably driven by mysterious “dark energy.” Subsequent studies of supernovae, many of which were found at Lick with the Katzman Automatic Imaging Telescope, led to greater confidence in the acceleration, and this discovery was honored with the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics.