Southampton fellowship to use International Space Station data to understand black holes and neutron stars
Physics and Astronomy at Southampton has received a Newton International Fellowship to use data collected on the International Space Station (ISS) to help understand how black holes and neutron stars interact with their surroundings.
Dr Yanan Wang, from the Observatoire Astronomique de Strasbourg, in France, has received the Fellowship to work with Royal Society University Research Fellow Dr Diego Altamirano on a project that will use data from the Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) aboard the ISS.
Diego said: NICER is currently the best X-ray observatory to study bright astrophysical objects that emit in soft X-rays. Our results will be used to optimise the design of the next generation of X-ray observatories.
Yanan said: By studying the properties of the immediate surroundings of a compact object, for instance black holes and neutron stars, we will be able to shed some light on the nature of such objects. More importantly, we will use our results to simulate potential observations done with the next generation of X-ray observatories known as the Enhanced X-ray Timing and Polarimetry mission (eXTP).
The eXTP is a new X-ray observatory being developed by a large China-Europe consortium. Our project will also contribute towards strengthening the scientific connections between China and the UK.
New results and issues discovered in this research will help to understand the X-ray properties in time domain, which are among the main interests of the Astronomy Group at the University of Southampton.
In order to observe extra-terrestrial sources, these sources must be observed from above the atmosphere, so my research significantly relies on the X-ray facilities in orbit and these new facilities we are developing are crucial for not only me, but other researchers.
The Newton International Fellowship is awarded to non-UK scientists at an early stage of their research career who wish to conduct research in the UK.
Yanan added: This funding offers me the opportunity to work with one of the world's leading groups - based at the University of Southampton - which is focused on high-energy observational astronomy. I will also continue my collaboration with institutions across Europe and China, such as the University of Groningen, the Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen and the Institute of High Energy Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences.