My research interests focus on the formation and evolution of interacting binary stars, particularly those that contain one (or two) compact stellar remnant(s). In order to find these systems, I am involved in a number of sky surveys and we combine custom sky surveys with data mining of public survey data at multiple wavebands. Once identified, I employ a variety of tools to characterise such systems and determine key parameters, such as the masses of the components, acurate orbital ephemerides and the dynamics of the accretion flow using indirect imaging techniques. Ultimately, we wish to understand the underlying physics of accretion and understand the evolutionary pathways towards supernova Type Ia explosions, ultra-compact binaries and binaries containing black holes and neutron stars. As binaries containing compact objects emit gravitational waves, I am also interested in gravitational wave astrophysics. Double white dwarf binaries are premier sources in the low-frequency range, while neutron stars emit at higher frequencies, accessible by ground-based interferometers.
I am an observationally focused astronomer, exploiting the spectrum of facilities available to us including the Hubble Space Telescope, X-ray satellites such as XMM and SWIFT and a wide range of ground-based observatories. I am currently working on a new facility that will hunt for EM signatures of binary mergers, called GOTO.
If you are interested in a Ph.D position in our group, a description of current projects on offer can be found here.
- 1st year module PX144 ; Introduction to Astronomy
- Optical spectroscopy (Part I / Part II)
- MPAGS AS2: Astrophysical Techniques
- Recent research publications
- Latest preprints as posted on arXiv or full publication list (via on-line ADS search)
- GOTO ; Gravitational Wave Optical Transient Observer
- ICAM imaging spectrograph for the INT
- The Kepler INT Survey of the Kepler field
- The IPHAS survey
- The helium-nova V445 Puppis, or as some people prefer to call it, a ticking stellar time bomb. Watch the expanding shell as resolved by adaptive optics, an artist impression of the binary system and some media coverage by the BBC, Scientific American.
- Two white dwarfs going round in 5.4 minutes, it can't get much more cosier than that ....