Observations

Apr 23, 2018

Characterising high-frequency pulsating A-type stars found with SuperWASP

2017-2-SCI-010

Observations of hot of variable stars to determine their fundament properties through spectroscopy.

Spectroscopic Survey of the Central Molecular Zones of Southern Galaxies

2017-2-SCI-042

The centers of galaxies host dense populations of stars and super massive black holes. In this study we are undertaking a pilot spectroscopic survey of southern galaxies to better understand how the central regions of nearby galaxies are evolving over time. This project makes use of the capabilites of the Robert Stobie Spectrograph on SALT to diagnose the degree to which the supermassive black hole is an active power source, levels of star formation and the degree to which these actions have perturbed central disks of interstellar gas.

Systematic radial velocity monitoring of likely intermediate period post-AGB binaries

2017-1-MLT-010

We are searching for binary stars in some of the most beautiful stellar remnants in the Galaxy.

SALT Supernova Followup

2017-1-MLT-002

Observations of supernovae, near and far.

Apr 22, 2018

Spectroscopic characterisation of faint Kepler 2 White Dwarfs

2017-2-SCI-023

White Dwarfs are the end state for 97% of stars including the Sun. Observations of White Dwarfs by NASA’s exoplanet mission, Kepler, show many are unexpectedly variable on timescales of hours and days. What causes this variability? Our project is to characterise White Dwarfs observed by Kepler. One suggestion is that these stars are being polluted by rocky material from asteroids in old planetary systems. Discovery of planets and/or evidence of rocky debris around White Dwarfs will provide the first clues as to the evolution of planetary systems (including our own) at the end stages of a stars’ life.

Intermediate mass black holes or very massive stars in star-forming galaxies

2017-1-MLT-003

We are looking for intermediate mass black holes or very massive stars in star-forming galaxies

The Small-Scale Environments of WISE-selected AGN

2017-2-SCI-018

The interplay between accreting supermassive black holes and the galaxies that they reside within is critical to understanding black hole growth and galaxy evolution. Here we are measuring the distances to growing black holes and galaxies that appear near them on the sky, to identify systems that are interacting gravitationally. This will tell us about the environments around growing black holes, and the role that galaxy interactions and mergers play in this process.

Long-Slit Kinematics of Galaxies for the RESOLVE Survey

2017-2-SCI-056

Galaxies are the luminous markers of a vast cosmic web, whose filaments and clusters condense under gravity while spacetime expands in voids between them. Gas and dark matter are the presumed lifeblood of this multi-scale organism, flowing along its filaments and feeding the growth of its galaxy cells. Yet much of the gas is undetected, and its relationship to invisible dark matter is unknown. To meet this challenge, the RESOLVE Survey combines state-of-the-art optical and radio/millimeter spectroscopy with multi-wavelength photometry to construct an unprecedented integrated view of gas, dark matter, and stars, spanning nearly five orders of magnitude in spatial scale. RESOLVE will disentangle dark matter and undetected gas to relate invisible mass to cosmic structure, illuminating mysteries such as the dramatic large-scale variation of the dwarf-galaxy inventory and the surprising abundance of galaxies like our own, with profound implications for galaxy evolution and cosmology.

Asymmetry is Destiny: Wolf-Rayet Binary Stars as GRB Progenitors

2017-2-SCI-014

This program aims to use the recently-commissioned high-precision spectropolarimetry mode of RSS to probe the prodigious mass-loss from certain massive evolved stars known as Wolf-Rayet stars which are in binary systems. These objects are possible progenitors of Gamma-Ray Bursts, which are the most energetic explosions yet known, and can be seen across the entire known universe.

Observing the Transient Universe

2016-2-LSP-001

This large SALT program is aimed at studying “things that go bang in the night”, namely transient objects in the Universe which either are newly discovered objects, or known objects who suddenly change their appeatance. Such things include binary stars with accreting compact companions, many of them X-ray or gamma ray sources, eruptive stars which suddenly brighten, black holes systems, including active galaxies powered by them, and all manner of explosions including the most energetic of all, gamma ray bursts.