I am currently a Radboud Excellence Initiative fellow, working in the Department of Astrophysics. My interests are in the evolution of massive stars and binary systems, and the transient phenomena that occur in the later stages of their evolution, including gamma-ray bursts, supernovae and fast radio bursts.
My work straddles the boundary between theory and observation. On the theory side, I have experience with stellar evolution models and population synthesis techniques, making particular use of the BPASS code (Binary Population and Spectral Synthesis). Observationally, I use data from across the electromagnetic spectrum to characterise the 'host galaxies' where these transients occur. By studying these galaxies, we learn about the stellar populations and conditions which are capable of producing the transients. These constraints are fed into the population synthesis codes and we see if our models can reproduce all of the observables that associated with a specific class of transient. These include the event rates, host galaxy population age, metallicity, and offsets from the host. Once observation and theory converge on the same distributions of these parameters, the origin has likely been correctly identified.
There are many types of transient which we are still trying to understand, both in terms of the event mechanisms themselves, and also in the wider contexts of late stellar evolution and the evolution and chemical enrichment of galaxies. These include compact object merger (short) GRBs and kilonovae, collapsar (long) GRBs, superluminous supernovae, rapidly evolving optical transients and fast radio bursts, to name a few. Several new facilities and large surveys across the electromagnetic spectrum and beyond are underway or due to start within the next decade, so this is a particularly exciting time to be exploring the origins of the most dramatic events the Universe has to offer!
An artistic interpretation of my PhD... well, this paper at least: