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This will be the last triennial report from Commission 50 under that label, because of the reorganization of the IAU at the end of the triennial period. Fortunately, site protection was recognized as an important ongoing function of the IAU, and the work of the Commission is continuing as Commission C.B7. The Commission has its primary association with Division B because of the technical aspects of its work and association with ground-based facilities, while it has the support of Division C as an Inter-Division Commission because of the strong need for educating the public on the issues.
In this review, I summarize the observational attempts made so far to unveil the nature of the progenitor system(s) of Type Ia supernovae. In particular, I focus on the most recent developments that followed the claimed detection of circumstellar material around a few events, and on the link this possibly establishes with recurrent novae. In this framework, I then discuss the case of RS Oph, what we know of its circumstellar environment, and what this is telling us about its supposed connection to Type Ia supernovae explosions.
The Supernova Working Group was re-established at the IAU XXV General Assembly in Sydney, 21 July 2003, sponsored by Commissions 28 (Galaxies) and 47 (Cosmology). Here we report on some of its activities since 2005.
Spectropolarimetry has a broad spectrum of applications, for which there are mostly no substitute observing techniques. They range from the measurement of the strength and structure of magnetic fields via the detection of scattered light from sources obscured by high-density matter or lost in the glare of a nearby bright object to the possibility of individual corrections to the intrinsic luminosities of far-away Type Ia supernovae - and many more. First reconnaissance projects have succeeded with 10m-class telescopes. But the application and extension of the insights gained require substantially larger telescopes. An ELT would in particular enable studies of the formation of structure (AGNs, $\gamma$-ray bursts) in early phases of the universe. At the large distances an ELT will reach, the spatial resolution of point sources, even though only at a very low level, will eventually beat any interferometer. Low cost, the possibility to exploit also not perfectly photometric nights, and the $D^4$ sensitivity of background-limited observations of point sources to telescope diameter are other strong assets.
Thus, the observation of gamma-ray line emission from a young supernova seems very promising in the near future. The observation, or even a null observation at a low threshold, will give significance in the fields of nuclear astrophysics and supernova theory. The scientific importance of a positive measurement would be analogous with and comparable to the importance of successful detection of neutrinos from the Sun.
We present results of a new investigation (Carraro et al. 2002) aimed at clarifying the mutual relationship between the three most prominent young open clusters close to η Carinæ, namely Trumpler 16, Trumpler 14 and Collinder 232.
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