Keele Astronomers Facility Time Success

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Posted on 22 July 2013

Keele astronomers have again been successful in winning substantial amounts of national and international facility time, of which the ground-based telescope time alone has a total nominal value of nearly £200,000.  Dr Joana Oliveira, has been awarded three nights on the 8-m Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory in the Chilean Atacama dessert. She will map the infrared light from molecular and atomic hydrogen across the formation sites of massive stars in a nearby galaxy, the Small Magellanic Cloud. Using a technique called "Adaptive Optics" the images will have a superb sharpness.

Keele PhD student Oliver Turner won 23 hours of time on the 2-m Liverpool Telescope, situated on the Canarian island of La Palma. He will observe five exo-planets, newly discovered by the Super-WASP planet discovery machine, and measure how the light blocked by the planets as they pass in front of their host star varies with time.

David Anderson has been awarded four nights on the 3.6-m Telescopic Nazionale Galileo, also on La Palma, via the OPTICON programme. To find out why some giant planets orbit their host star at very close proximity (so-called "hot Jupiters") David will compare the direction in which they orbit, with the direction in which the star spins.

David also gained 11 hours of time on the Liverpool Telescope. He will use a new infrared instrument to determine the radius and bulk composition of the Uranus-size planet GJ3470b, and the cloudiness of its atmosphere, by measuring the amount of light of a particular colour that is blocked by the planet as it passes in front of its host star.

And Professor Rob Jeffries won three nights on the 2.5-m Nordic Optical Telescope, again on La Palma. He aims to measure the rotation rates of low-mass dwarf stars and compare their radii with the results of theoretical stellar models.

Dr James Reeves, secured 500 kilo-seconds of observing time on the European Space Agency's X-ray Multi-Mirror Newton satellite, to map the inner accretion disk wind in the quasar PDS 456.

Professor Nye Evans, has been awarded six shifts on the Diamond Light Source, in Oxfordshire, for a project on "Laying the foundations for astrophysical XANES". Using Beamline B18 he plans to get laboratory templates for the X-ray Absorption Near Edge Structure (XANES) that is expected to be seen with forthcoming X-ray observatories such as the Japanese Astro-H. Keele PhD student Sarah Day is a co-investigator on this project.