Title: Uncovering dust enshrouded cataclysms toward a census of stellar and black hole evolution
Abstract: Multiplicity is ubiquitous in stars and the remnants they leave behind. While eruptive mass transfer has profound impacts on their long term evolution, the resulting processes are commonly enshrouded in dust produced by mass outflows, preventing direct observational constraints at optical/X-ray/UV bands. In pursuit of a complete census of the role of accretion outbursts in stellar and black hole evolution, I will present the WISE Transients Project (WTP) — a new effort aimed at a complete census of the variable mid-infrared sky using 15 years of data from the NEOWISE survey. With systematic selection from millions of new infrared variables, I will highlight recent and ongoing work revealing i) a missed population of dusty stellar mergers in our Galactic backyard, ii) new insights into the fiery fates of close planetary worlds, iii) the birth of black holes from dusty eruptions of stripped stars and iv) the growth of supermassive black holes via tidal captures of stars in Galactic nuclei. I will end with an overview of the exciting upcoming decade of infrared surveys that is poised to finally reveal a complete roadmap from stellar birth to the stellar graveyard.
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