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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

Tue Nov 10, 2015

AEI-ICTS workshop on gravitational wave astronomy

It's an exciting time for Indian science at the moment, with the September 28th launch of the ASTROSAT multiwavelength astronomy mission, and the development of a new interferometric gravitational-wave detector, IndIGO. Motivated by these developments, the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences hosted a joint worshop between November 4th—6th with the Albert Einstein Institute, at the new ICTS campus north of Bengaluru (Bangalore). The meeting featured a range of talks on searches for gravitational waves as well as X-ray, radio and optical followup. I gave an invited talk on our knowledge of the orbital parameters of the best continuous-wave candidate source, Scorpius X-1, based on our 2014 paper.

Labels: 2015, /meetings

Fri Jun 26, 2015

40 years of X-ray bursts: Extreme explosions in dense environments

This June the terrific people at ESAC hosted a 3-day workshop to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the discovery of X-ray bursts. The workshop featured a comprehensive review of the state-of-the-art of burst physics and phenomenology, and plenty of opportunities for productive discussions. The organisers included a conference dinner at the fantastic Rstaurante Zerain which was a terrific (if very late) night out. It was also wonderful to spend some time in Madrid, and enjoy some sunshine! On behalf of my SOC co-chair, I had a lot of fun presenting the conference summary.

Labels: 2015, /meetings

Tue Jan 27, 2015

Astronomy Decadal Plan 2016—25 exposure draft

The NCA has completed and released the first draft of Australian Astronomy's Decadal plan for 2016—25, which you can download here. Now is your last chance for feedback on the committee's recommendations! To provide plenty of opportunity for contributions, a series of meetings will be held around the country in February. Melbourne's meeting will be held on 19th February at Swinburne.

Labels: 2015, /meetings