The Texas supernova search



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Supernovae (SNe) are popular tools to explore the cosmological expansion of the Universe owing to their bright peak magnitudes and reasonably high rates; however, even the relatively homogeneous Type Ia supernovae are not intrinsically perfect standard candles. Their absolute peak brightness must be established by corrections that have been largely empirical. Hundreds of SNe are now found every year, shrinking the statistical errors in the cosmological parameters, but most of these distant discoveries do little to further the physical understanding of SNe, which could illuminate unknown systematics. The Texas Supernova Search was not designed to discover the most SNe nor the most distant SNe, but it was instead created to amass a small collection of well-observed nearby SNe with detailed, multi-epoch spectral observations beginning at the earliest possible phases. For the past two years, I have pointed ROTSE-IIIb’s 1.85 X 1.85 degree field of view at nearby galaxy clusters and searched thousands of galaxies, covering hundreds of square degrees on the sky, for supernovae. With ToO time on the neighboring 9.2m Hobby-Eberly Telescope, the search has captured SNe spectra at some of the earliest phases ever. In this dissertation I describe the Texas Supernova Search and present the 30 supernovae, 11 novae, and 6 dwarf novae discovered in the first two years of the program.