Reader in Observational Astronomy
My research uses observations of cosmic X-ray sources to study physics under extreme conditions, in particular, close to black holes. Material approaching a black hole can be subjected to forces and temperatures so extreme they cannot be reproduced in the laboratory. Such extremes provide one of the toughest tests for our understanding of the basic physics of gravity and radiation - in effect, using black holes as physics laboratories.
This work uses observations made with ESA's Cornerstone X-ray mission XMM-Newton, NASA's Great Observatory Chandra, NASA's RXTE and the joint US-UK-Italy mission Swift. I use the data from these missions to study the behaviour of active galactic nuclei (AGN; accreting supermassive black holes in the centres of galaxies), gamma-ray bursts (GRBs; the brightest explosions in the known Universe) and black hole X-ray binaries in our Galaxy.
Teaching and administration
I lead two courses and am a member of the teaching teams for others including the first year maths (PA 1710, 1720) In semester 2 give a first year option course on Science from Space (opt 1606) which is designed to provide a basic understanding of the scope and relevance of the various disciplines of space science at a level suitable for first year students. In semester 1 I give a course that is available to third and fourth year students called Scientific Inference (opt 4312) which covers some basic topics in statistics and data analysis that are useful in physics research and beyond.
I am also one of the undergraduate admissions tutors for the Physics and Astronomy department. See our admissions page for more information about applying to study at Leicester.