Introducing Hugh Osborn

This week’s astronomer is Hugh Osborn, a second year PhD Student at the University of Warwick (UK). Hugh’s research involves using dedicated transit surveys to detect exoplanets. These surveys include SuperWASP, whose cameras have found more than 100 planets after more than a decade of observations; NGTS, WASP’s ultra-precise successor at Paranal; and Kepler/K2, which from it’s position in space has detected thousands of planets & planet candidates. As well as the more day-to-day aspects of WASP & NGTS planet-hunting, Hugh trawls through the WASP and Kepler archives looking for interesting, undiscovered objects. These include young eclipsing binaries, the eclipses of circumstellar (and circumplanetary) discs, and the single transits of long-period giant planets.

Hugh grew up in Norwich, England and studied Earth Sciences (with a large slice of astronomy & planetary science) at University College London before making a B-line for exoplanet astronomy at Warwick in 2013. When not in the office or the pub, you will probably find him climbing Mountains, watching Netflix, cycling or supporting Norwich City. He occasionally blogs about science at Lost In Transits and tweets about everything else over at @HughO2.

Introducing Niall Deacon (again)

This week, features Niall Deacon. Niall is a postdoctoral astronomer working at the University of Hertfordshire in the UK. He specialises in using large scale surveys of the sky to identify failed stars called brown dwarfs to understand how they form and the processes which go on in their atmospheres. These objects are typically the same size as Jupiter but 12-80 times as massive and much hotter. They form a bridge between giant planets and stars helping us to learn more about both. Niall also is active in astronomy outreach, producing astronomy videos such as Don’t Call Me Colin and others (the less said about his Christmas song about Tycho Brahe’s elk the better). When not working, he is a keen pub quizzer, supports Scotland and Falkirk FC (so is used to seeing teams in dark blue lose) and hates referring to himself in the third person.

Most of Niall’s work over the last five years has been using data from the Pan-STARRS1 survey. This is a ground-breaking study of three quarters the sky with deep, high resolution images in many colours of visible light. Over the course of 3 and a half years, each point in the survey area was observed 10-15 times in each of 5 filters of different colours. This makes the survey ideal for finding things that move across the sky (like asteroids or nearby stars) or things that change a lot in brightness (like supernovae).

The data from Pan-STARRS1 should be available to the public over the summer so Niall is probably going to mostly tweet about this part of his work. But if you have questions about brown dwarfs and other interesting bits of astronomy feel free to ask.

Introducing: Karina Voggel

Karina Voggel is a 2-nd year PhD student at ESO (European Southern Observatory) headquarter in Garching (Germany) and the LMU München as home institute. In addition she is part of the International Max Planck
Research School (IMPRS) which is the joint PhD school of all 4 astronomy institutes in Munich. Previously, Karina did her Masters thesis at the Astronomisches Rechenzentrum (ARI) in Heidelberg and her Bachelor thesis at the MPIA in Heidelberg. When she was offered the amazing opportunity to be a PhD student at one of the largest observatories in the world @ESO, she left the beautiful Heidelberg after her Masters and went to
Munich. During her first year in Bavaria she learned to like beer and tried to master the art of finding vegetarian food in a city full of sausages and meat! Her favourite way to discover new cities and especially the green parks is running through them to train for the next half-marathon.

Karina currently studies ultra compact dwarf galaxies (UCDs) in nearby clusters (Fornax, Virgo). These UCDs have been discovered only 15 years ago in the Fornax Cluster. With their sizes (10-100pc) and Luminosities
they fall right into the previously empty gap between the population of globular clusters and dwarf galaxies and until today their origins are not clear. The two main theories are that they are either high mass
globular clusters or the remnant nuclei of stripped dwarf Elliptical galaxies. To constrain the formation channel she uses observations mainly from the ESO VLT to determine their structural properties,
analyze their spatial distribution and searching for tidal features around these UCDs.
In another part of her work she also studies the newly discovered ultra faint dwarf galaxies in the outskirts of our own Milky Way in more detail. She has just obtained the first data on one dwarf these objects
with the new VLT instrument MUSE and hopes this will help to uncover the nature of ultra faint dwarfs. For more on all these peculiar dwarfs, follow the discussions on astrotweeps this week!

Introducing Arna Karick

Arna Karick is an e-Research Consultant at Swinburne University of Technology (Melbourne, Australia). Over the past year or so she has been championing the idea of ‘data science’ in astronomy and challenging traditional ideas about the tenured astronomer. She is a big fan of alternative careers both in research and in the tech industry and a supporter of the .Astronomy community. A lot of her time is spent of data management policies and procedures, writing and talking about data-intensive research and help to build e-Research capability at Swinburne across all research disciplines. In her spare working hours she tries to keep up with her astronomy research; unravelling the structure of galaxies in Coma and trying to understand how galaxies change as the cluster evolves. Her new favourite data science tools are (in theory) GitHub, iPython Notebook, D3js Data-DrivenVisualisation, and ‘Y’avascript. Forking still baffles her.

Arna grew up in Melbourne (Australia) and shortly after obtaining her PhD Astrophysics she moved overseas as mostAustralian graduates do. She spent four years in sunny California at the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) at Lawrence Livermore Lab (LLNL) looking for ultra-compact dwarf galaxies in Fornax, Virgo and Coma and testing the limits of the WIYN spectrograph and the Keck DEIMOS, ESI and NIRC-LGSAO systems. She has been known to use precious 10m telescope time to take 1s exposures of very bright stars for the HST/STIS Next Generation Spectral Library modelling. Arna then moved to the Astrophysics Research Institute in Liverpool (UK) to join the HST/ACS Coma Cluster Treasury Survey where she spent a lot of time scrutinising follow-up data and automatic image analysis/classification pipelines. Two and half years later she moved to the University of Oxford where she had an all-round jolly good time attending debates at the Sheldonian (Dawkins vs Rowan) and punting along the Cherwell. As part of the the Astrophysics Group she analysed 100s of archival HST images for the Atlas3D Galaxy Survey and co-authored a paper. She then moved back to Australia in fear that her family might give up and disown her.

Arna tweets all things astronomy and data science: @drarnakarick

Introducing Matthieu Béthermin

Matthieu Béthermin is a postdoctoral fellow at ESO (European Southern Observatory) headquarter in Garching (Germany). Previously, Matthieu did his PhD thesis at Paris-Sud University. As Paris is a sort of black hole for French people*, he did not manage to escape and did his first postdoc at CEA Saclay (in Paris’ banlieue). An improbable tunnel effect sent him to ESO in Garching close from Munich, where he discovered the German beer Gemütlichkeit.

He studies the evolution of galaxies and focuses particularly on star-forming galaxies at high redshift. The Spitzer and Herschel space telescopes found large populations of galaxies ultra-luminous in the infrared forming more than 100 solar masses of stars per year.  These galaxies are very massive and gas-rich. They are very challenging to explain with theoretical models. Matthieu is a member of several collaborations studying these intriguing galaxies (HerMES, GOODS-Herschel, SPT SMGs). More details will be provided in the tweets. No spoilers! As an ESO fellow, he also has functional duties and chose to work on ALMA. It is a 66-antenna millimeter interferometer built at 5000m of altitude in the Atacama, one of the driest places on Earth.

Matthieu can normally be found at @MatBethermin.

* France is extremely centralized and Paris concentrates most of the top French universities and research centers.