The University of Southampton

Newton International Fellowships bolster pioneering Physics and Astronomy research

Published: 30 October 2018
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Three talented early career researchers will join the School of Physics and Astronomy

Three talented early career researchers have been awarded Newton International Fellowships to push the boundaries of theoretical physics and X-ray astronomy at the University of Southampton.

The international scientists will join Southampton’s School of Physics and Astronomy for the next two years through the competitive programme from The Royal Society, the British Academy and the Academy of Medical Sciences.

Newton International Fellowships provide the opportunity for the best early stage postdoctoral researchers from across the world to join UK research institutions, covering a broad range of the natural and social sciences and the humanities.

Dr Mehtap Arabaci and Dr Liang Zhang will join Principal Research Fellow Dr Diego Altamirano in the Southampton Astronomy Group , while Dr Diana Rojas will work with Professor Stefano Moretti in the Southampton High Energy Physics Group .

Dr Diana Rojas’ project on dark matter phenomenology in three-Higgs doublet models sees her return to the School that she once visited as a PhD student from Mexico. The research continues a five-year collaboration with Stefano and the NExT Institute which could trigger the discovery of more Higgs bosons at the Large Hadron Collider, including a perfect Dark Matter particle.

“At present, we have no experimental clues to guide us in any particular direction to address the shortcomings of the Standard Model, the current description of particle physics,” Stefano explains. “Theoretical ingenuity is necessary and the path that Diana is taking in her research bears some promise, as it may also offer us the means to explain why the Universe in not symmetric between matter and antimatter and why, in both cases, the spectra of masses are so hierarchical.”

Dr Mehtap Arabaci’s research will cover the multi-wavelength observations of distant Be/X-ray binaries, where gas is transferred onto a neutron star and creates bright flares of X-rays.

“At the peak of these giant outbursts, these systems become the brightest sources of the X-ray sky, serving as a laboratory to test the role of the neutron star magnetic fields while interacting with its environment at different luminosity regimes,” Mehtap says. “I hope that this fellowship can be a first step for creating a long-term collaboration between researchers in Southampton and Turkey via new research programmes related to the Turkish 4-metre NIR telescope, the DAG (Eastern Anatolia Observatory).”

Dr Liang Zhang will explore spectral and timing analysis of black hole X-ray binaries with China’s Hard X-ray Modulation Telescope. “It is a great honour to receive a Newton International Fellowship,” he says. “I hope that we can establish a long-term collaboration between the UK and China in the area of X-ray astronomy.”

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