Jun 27, 2014

Coordinated Chandra and SALT observations of SXP1062


SXP1062 is a unique and unusual X-ray binary. It is associated with a supernovae remnant allowing its age to be estimated at 10,000-25,000 years old. During the past two years we have observed 2 large outbursts from the system. We are performing near simultaneous observations with the Chandra X-ray space observatory to monitor the state of its most recent outburst. This will provide information on its accretion mechanism helping us to unravel the mysteries around its unusual life.

Jun 23, 2014

Investigating the H alpha Emission of a Bow Shock in SN1006


Jun 22, 2014

Transmission Spectrum and Foward Scattering from Wasp 43b


We have begun a new effort to study hot Jupiter atmospheres in far greater detail than ever before. Beginning with an exploratoryset of observations, our first stage will use SALT and RSS to obtain an optical transmission spectrum of a transiting planet that has the deepest eclipse compared to its host star. The second stage will attempt to measure the polarimetric effects of the same planet’satmosphere on the incident starlight. If successful, this work will open a new avenue for exoplanet atmospheric science. SALT presents an ideal opportunity to advance studies of exoplanet atmospheres immediately in a manner that should resolve the questionof scattered light detection down to very low levels. For us, SALT has three primary advantages unique in the world: its large aperture;its spectropolarimetry mode, capable of measuring linear and circular polarization; and its multi-object capability, allowing simultaneousmeasurements of nearby stars for calibration and control data. Although we will be starting with non-polarized scattering, thiscombination of advantages provides the opportunity to take the most exacting measurements of polarized and non-polarizedscattering from an exoplant to date. There is no other such opportunity in the world today. Eventually, we wish to set clear limits as towhat levels of polarization can be measured star as well as study that polarization.

Jun 21, 2014

Observational Constraints on the Nature of the Extreme Luminous Blue Variable S18


S18 is a massive, hot, highly variable star in the Small Magellanic Cloud. Despite its size it shows large variations inbrightness over timescales of days/weeks quite unlike any other star of its type. We are trying to look at how thespectrum of the star changes with overall brightness to try to understand the nature of this intriguing source.

Surface Properties of Pluto’s Ices from Rotationally Resolved Visible Spectra


We will study the compositon of Pluto’s surface ices, looking at it from many angles as it rotates. We will do this to see how it has changed over the past decacdes, and in preparation for the arrival of NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft at Pluto in July 2015.

Jun 17, 2014

The age of stellar disks of S0 galaxies in clusters


Spectral study of the evolution of lenticular galaxies.

Jun 16, 2014

Spectroscopy of Three Supernova-Hosting Dwarf Galaxies


Jun 12, 2014

Accretion disk echo mapping of high-redshift quasars


We are determining the luminosity (and therefore the distance) to very distant galaxies by measuring how long it takes for echos to travel from the central super-massive black hole in the core of the galaxy to a disk of material falling into the black hole. The delays are expected to be of the order of days.

SALT Supernova Followup


We are observing exploding stars (supernovae) in the nearby and distant Universe: 1. to trace the expansion history of the accelerating Universe, and 2. understand the nature of these cosmic explosions.

Jun 11, 2014

Probing Accretion in Magnetic CVs Through High Time Speed Photometry


We are looking at interesting magnetic binary stars in which hot gas is being funnelled onto a dense white dwarf. In so doing, lots of energy is realeased in X-rays and optical. SALT is going to be looking for quasi-periodic brighness variations and flickering in order to understand exactly how the accretion of the hot gas takes place.