Accretion onto Compact objects

 
 

I am an astrophysicist whose main interests lie in trying to understand accretion (matter transfer) onto compact objects. I am an observer, so I spend most of my time looking at these things to try and test our current theories, and to expand our understanding of the universe.

Observational Astrophysicist?

What do I do?

I mainly spend my days in front of a computer (does not sound very exciting ... but it is really!), trying to understand more about compact objects and accretion.  Compact objects come in three main types; white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes, while accretion related to mass transfer from either a companion star or from the surrounding inter stellar medium.  When these compact objects are drawing material from a companion star, they are known as accreting X-ray binary systems, so called because they appear bright in X-rays.

I am currently trying to understand a strange group of curiously bright X-ray binaries. These ultraluminous X-ray sources emit too much X-ray radiation to be explained by standard accretion only a regular stellar mass black hole. So I use various parts of the electromagnetic spectrum to try and understand what makes them appear so bright.

More recently I have started looking at the very brightest of these sources, a group of objects that have recently become a class in their own right. These are the hyperluminous X-ray sources.

What am I currently studying?

Why not come along to the University of Alberta Observatory. Its open for many public viewing events throughout the year!

Do you want to observe the stars too?