PATT-linked grant for Warwick Astronomy & Astrophysics Group, April 2015 to March 2017

Lead Research Organisation: University of Warwick
Department Name: Physics

Abstract

At the end of their lives stars settle into one of three possible final compact states known as white dwarfs, neutron stars or black-holes. All three of these are incredibly dense by our standards, so much so that to a neutron star matter at Earth-like densities is only a little different from a vacuum. Many examples of such objects are known, and they are often far from being inactive as they can be so closely paired up with other stars than we can see the effects of gas transferring from one star to the compact object. In such a process the gas can be heated to many millions of degrees making these object efficient X-ray sources. Furthermore, both white dwarfs and neutron stars can show explosive effects as material accreting onto them sparks into uncontrollable fusion, generating vast amounts of energy within seconds or minutes. Such explosions can light up the furthest reaches of the Universe to reveal the history of the build up of structures in the Universe. Our work centres on trying to understand such processes and how the various objects that we see relate to one another. The purpose of this grant is to support the travel needed to observe these objects on ground-based telescopes where we carry out observations of the high-speed processes that occur as material crashes onto these remarkable objects. The grant will also support work on exoplanets, where high-precision measurements of brightness and velocity are essential to the measurements of the masses and radii of planets required to understand the nature of planets far beyond our Solar System.

Publications

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Ashley R (2019) Evidence for bimodal orbital separations of white dwarf-red dwarf binary stars in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Bours M (2016) Long-term eclipse timing of white dwarf binaries: an observational hint of a magnetic mechanism at work in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Breedt E (2017) Using large spectroscopic surveys to test the double degenerate model for Type Ia supernovae in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Brown G (2017) Late-time observations of the relativistic tidal disruption flare candidate Swift J1112.2-8238 in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Copperwheat C (2016) Liverpool Telescope follow-up of candidate electromagnetic counterparts during the first run of Advanced LIGO in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Gentile Fusillo N (2015) A photometric selection of white dwarf candidates in Sloan Digital Sky Survey Data Release 10 in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Green M (2018) A 15.7-Minute AM CVn Binary Discovered in K2 in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Green M (2018) High-speed photometry of Gaia14aae: an eclipsing AM CVn that challenges formation models in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Greiss S (2016) The search for ZZ Ceti stars in the original Kepler mission in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

 
Description This is a grant for travel to telescopes; see the associated consolidated grant for details
Exploitation Route To drive their own research
Sectors Education

 
Description Facebook Live session hosted by Coventry Telegraph 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact This was a ~30 minute long live question session with questions pre-submitted and submitted during the session on astronomy in general and my research in particular. The session went out to 12,000 feeds, and there were around 670 following it. It was a first attempt at running this sort of event by the Coventry Telegraph. It was aimed at school children in their holidays. Took place on 22 August 2016.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.facebook.com/coventrytelegraph/videos/1188249861232166
 
Description Live Q&A on the internet in conjunction with Coventry Telegraph 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was Facebook Live session, hosted by the Coventry Telegraph, so reaching a wider audience than had I run it myself. I firt talked about my area of research and then answered questions sent in by the viewers. It lasted about an hour.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.facebook.com/coventrytelegraph/videos/1188249861232166
 
Description Press release associated with Nature paper on AR Sco 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Through the University of Warwick's press office I commissioned space artist Mark Garlick to develop a visualisation of the system in question. I also posted a movie on youtube showing brightness variations, and the ESO press office created an artistic movie illustrating the system also on youtube which has close to 300,000 views. There are links to these on a wikipedia page for the object. The release was picked up widely and led to requests for interviews (e.g. with the BBC's Sky-at-Night magazine, see the associated web link).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL http://www.skyatnightmagazine.com/news/white-dwarf-blasts-companion-radiation
 
Description Visit to astronomy society, Stratford 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This was a talk about AR Sco, an object I published a paper in Nature last year. There were many questions following the talk.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2007
URL http://www.astro.org.uk/schedule/index.php