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Research Associate at ICRAR/UWA

I recently joined ICRAR as a full time researcher after many years as an enthusiastic amateur astronomer. I am pursuing a number of smaller projects as I discover where my main research interests lie. A couple of my research areas are extensions to short projects carried out for my Masters Degree in Astronomy.  My work at the moment is:

Data Intensive Astronomy

Developing standardised data flows to process the large flow of data from the new FAST radio astronomy dish in Southwest China.

Cataclysmic Variable Stars

I am studying a type of variable star known as UGSU, which consists of a binary system in which a medium-sized red star orbits a more massive white dwarf. These are the precursor systems to the ‘type 1a supernovae’, which are very important phenomena in Astronomy In these systems the red companion spills matter onto the white dwarf, creating an accretion disk. From time to time the disk becomes gravitationally unstable and collapsed onto the WD, causing the system to brighten by a factor of 10,000 or so.  By studying the light emitted during this collapse we can learn about the behaviour and possible ultimate destruction of the system.

Earth’s Trojan Points

It is possible for asteroids, rocks, and dust to share Earth’s orbit, if they can become bound to one of the ‘Lagrange Points’ which sit ahead of and behind Earth in its orbit. My work based on dynamical modelling using the Swinburne supercomputer has established the criteria for large objects to maintain a stable ‘tadpole’ or ‘horseshoe’ orbit as a partner of Earth. I am extending this work to look at the possibility of primordial gas and dust being retained – for these small particles the models need to include the effects of radiation pressure and light drag.

Evolution of ‘green valley’ galaxies

I am investigating the evolution of galaxies as they transition from the blue cloud to the red sequence (if in fact they do transition!) – specifically looking for correlations with the gas content of the galaxies. This work is under the direction of Ivy Wong and Barbara Catinella at ICRAR.

Background

I started my working life in the UK steel industry. After gaining a 1st class honours degree and PhD in Metallurgy at the University of Leeds, I pursued an academic career initially at the University of Wales, then at the BHP Melbourne Research Laboratories in Melbourne, Victoria.  During this period I achieved a number of Journal publications and Conference Presentations in the field. I later moved into more applied work in Steel Processing, Data Management and Technology Deployment, in industries including Steel manufacture, government, and Oil & Gas.  The latter included two years in the Pilbara (NW Australia) managing a range of process improvement projects. In my later career my focus was on Project Management though I maintained a technical focus and was awarded a patent relevant to reducing the environmental impact of offshore operations.

Through all this time I maintained an interest in astronomy, and gained a Graduate Diploma and Masters Degree in Astronomy from Swinburne University (Victoria) by distance learning.

ICRAR Statement

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