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Fri Jun 29, 2018

Nuclear astrophysics in the mountains

The 15th Nuclei in the Cosmos meeting was held at the Gran Sasso National Laboratory, near Assergi, Italy. Monash had a pretty good showing with PhD students Adelle Goodwin, Zac Johnston and Melanie Hampel all in attendance. I presented a talk bringing together some of our recent work on measuring neutron star properties from thermonuclear bursts. A highlight was the conference banquet, at the wonderful Magione Papale, al fresco dining on a beautiful summer's evening topped off with a remarkable fireworks show.

The meeting setting offered a terrific opportunity to explore the area; from the earthquake-damaged (and still not fully recovered) town of L'Aquila, to the mountains and valleys surrounding the nearby village of Assergi, an unlikely place to find an Australian hotel owner!

Measuring neutron star properties from thermonuclear bursts (8 MB PDF)

Labels: 2018, /meetings

Fri Jun 15, 2018

BERN'18 workshop, Prato, Italy


This month I hosted the Burst Environments, Reactions and Numerical modelling workshop at Monash's Prato Centre, near Florence. Inspired by a series of ISSI international teams over the last few years, the meeting featured a selected group of attendees with the goal of bringing together researchers working on observational, numerical and nuclear experimental investigations of thermonuclear (type I) bursts. The centre proved an excellent venue for the great presentations and discussions we had over the week. I'm very grateful to JINA-CEE and MoCA for sponsoring the event, as well as the organising committee as well as Adelle and Zac for the website and their help organising. Hopefully these meetings will continue further, perhaps in Leiden in 2019!

Workshop website

Labels: 2018, /meetings

Wed May 30, 2018

JINA-CEE Frontiers of Nuclear Astrophysics

This year's meeting (the 8th in the series!) was held in lovely South Bend, IN. As usual the meeting covered a wide range of nuclear astrophysics topics as well as the excellent attendee-driven "unconference" sessions. Donald Clayton gave a great historical overview in his opening talk. I presented a poster on the progress in our efforts to reconcile burst models and observations.
We also enjoyed the excellent share bike facilities and the great bike path along the river, conveniently leading the way to the Crooked Ewe

Reconciling observations and models of thermonuclear bursts: a progress report (0.5 MB PDF)

Labels: 2018, /meetings

Fri Apr 13, 2018

GOTO team meeting @ Warwick U.


This week the (rapidly expanding) GOTO collaboration met at Warwick U. We heard talks about the exciting science following the detection of GW170817, as well as the instrument and software development. It was great to hear from new prospective collaboration partners Rene Breton (U. Manchester) and Seppo Mattila (U. Turku). There is still a lot to do before the LIGO observations resume (expected in early 2019), but we are on-track to be ready to detect optical counterparts!

Labels: 2018, /meetings

Fri Nov 24, 2017

IAU Symposium #339 on Time-Domain Astronomy

This month I visited South Africa (and the African continent for the first time!) to attend the Southern Horizons in Time-Domain Astronomy meeting in Stellenbosch. The programme featured an exhaustive roster of hot topics in the transient realm right now — from kilonovae through FRBs to supernovae and stellar pulsations. A wide range of instrument development activities were reported, both world-wide and in South Africa, which is of course the host of the Southern African Large Telescope (SALT) and the Square Kilometer Array precursor MeerKAT As well there were workshops on relevant topics including astroinformatics and machine learning. The setting, in the midst of SA's wine regions was pretty hard to beat, and the chance to visit Cape Town — surely one of the most geographically stunning cities in the world — was a nice bonus. The program and most of the talks are now online so check it out!

Labels: 2017, /meetings

Thu Jun 30, 2016

Thermonuclear bursts in Japan

This June I visited Niigata, Japan for the 14th Nuclei in the Cosmos meeting. This biennial gathering attracts a mix of nuclear experimentalists, modelers, and astrophysicists. I presented a poster on our thermonuclear burst model-observation comparisons.
Following the meeting I stopped by RIKEN in Tokyo, where members of the MAXI instrument team were the very generous hosts of a meeting of our International Space Science Institute international team. The Monitor of All-Sky X-ray Image (MAXI) instrument, deployed on NASA's International Space Station, has been continuously monitoring the X-ray sky for several years, and has detected many rare, long-duration thermonuclear bursts, as well as transient outbursts of known and new sources.

Labels: 2016, /meetings

Mon May 30, 2016

JINA-CEE International Symposium on Neutron Stars in the Multi-Messenger Era: Prospects & Challenges

In May I travelled to Athens, OH for the JINA-CEE symposium on neutron stars. This was a great week of presentations on a very wide range of astrophysics topics relating to neutron stars, including my own presentation on thermonuclear bursts, but also discussions of new & upcoming missions like NICER and ASTROSAT, progress on mass-radius measurements from bursts and cooling transients, rotation-powered pulsars, gravitational waves, you name it. The week kicked off on Sunday with a satellite workshop on Experiments for X-ray Burst Nucleosynthesis, where we reviewed the prospects for better experimental constraints on the many nuclear reactions important to thermonuclear bursts. A big thank-you to JINA-CEE for supporting my trip!

Labels: 2016, /meetings

Fri Dec 18, 2015

First meeting of new ISSI burst team

In December we kicked off a new international team supported by Bern's International Space Science Institute. This team is focussed on reconciling experimental, observational and numerical investigations on thermonuclear (X-ray) bursts and the nuclear reactions that power them. Due to the strong gravity and high temperature, these bursts probe nuclear physics and reactions not encountered elsewhere in nature, and are also influenced by the properties of the underlying neutron star - and hence the properties of matter at these extreme conditions. Our goals include identifying the key nuclear reactions which influence the burst lightcurve; taking advantage of new rare-isotope accelerator-based experiments and satellite observations to provide stringent tests of numerical models; identifying specific cases of ignition and burning from observation-model comparisons; and (ultimately) providing qualitatively new constraints on the properties of neutron stars and nuclear matter.

Although this is the third such team for me, it's the first I've led. Bern itself was once again celebrating Christmas, with the Weihnachtsmarkt in full swing, including the always popular gluhwein shack.

See the team home page for more information

Labels: 2015, /meetings