Sean O’Brien – ‘Hunting for Exoplanets using Citizen Science’
SYNOPSIS: The field of exoplanet science is booming with new surveys being built and huge amounts of data being generated at a rapid pace, but all of this data needs to be searched systematically and, ideally, quickly. Traditionally, astronomers have relied on a combination of computer algorithms and human “eyeballing” to identify the most promising exoplanet candidates that should be put forward for additional observations. The eyeballing process, where professional astronomers will view large lists of potential candidates, is time-consuming and open to error for any small team of astronomers. However, by harnessing the skills and enthusiasm of public volunteers through citizen science projects such as Planet Hunters and Exoplanet Explorers, we have been able to find exoplanets that would have likely remained undetected by professional astronomers. In this talk I will guide you through a brief history of exoplanets and how we find them, and give an overview of the process of citizen science searches and the interesting discoveries they have made.
Sean is a 2nd-year PhD student at Queen’s University Belfast where he works with Dr Meg Schwamb as part of the Exoplanet Group. His PhD project is focused on using the help of public volunteers through the Planet Hunters NGTS project to find exoplanets that may have been missed in the initial searches of datasets from the Next Generation Transit Survey (NGTS). Prior to starting his PhD at Queen’s, Sean completed a Masters degree at the University of Warwick where he tested the precision of the NGTS telescopes by measuring the amount of scintillation, or “how much stars twinkle,” in the NGTS data.
Thomas Moore – Discovery and Characterisation of Supernovae in the Local Universe’.
With the advent of large-scale robotic sky surveys, the number of supernovae has grown exponentially. In this talk I will discuss what supernovae are, the history of supernova discovery and the processes we use to of find, characterise, and study supernovae.
Thomas is a second-year astrophysics PhD student at Queen’s University Belfast where he graduated with and MSc in Physics with Astrophysics in 2021. His research currently focuses on observation and theoretical modelling of supernovae discovered by the ATLAS sky survey.
NB: The lectures are now held in the LARMOR Lecture Theatre, also in the Physics Building, which is much bigger, and will allow greater distancing between attendees. Directions. The Larmor is at the other end of the Physics building to the entrance to the Bell LT, which we used previously. It’s on the side of the Physics building which is closest to, and parallel to, University Road. There is a ramp to allow wheelchair axis. Please try to be there early, to facilitate a prompt start – access should be available from shortly after 7 p.m.
ADMISSION FREE – All welcome!