Several key, open questions in astrophysics can be tackled by searching for and
mining large datasets for transient phenomena. The evolution of massive stars and
compact objects can be studied over cosmic time by identifying supernovae (SNe) and
gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) in other galaxies and determining their redshifts. Modeling
GRBs and their afterglows to probe the jets of GRBs can shed light on the emission
mechanism, rate, and energetics of these events.
In Chapter 1, I discuss the current state of astronomical transient study, including
sources of interest, instrumentation, and data reduction techniques, with a focus
on work in the infrared. In Chapter 2, I present original work published in the
Proceedings of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, testing InGaAs infrared
detectors for astronomical use (Strausbaugh, Jackson, and Butler 2018); highlights of
this work include observing the exoplanet transit of HD189773B, and detecting the
nearby supernova SN2016adj with an InGaAs detector mounted on a small telescope
at ASU. In Chapter 3, I discuss my work on GRB jets published in the Astrophysical
Journal Letters, highlighting the interesting case of GRB 160625B (Strausbaugh et al.
2019), where I interpret a late-time bump in the GRB afterglow lightcurve as evidence
for a bright-edged jet. In Chapter 4, I present a look back at previous years of
RATIR (Re-ionization And Transient Infra-Red Camera) data, with an emphasis on
the efficiency of following up GRBs detected by the Fermi Space Telescope, before
some final remarks and brief discussion of future work in Chapter 5.