Main Research Fields
My main scientific interest for many years has been the study of evolved massive stars, and in particular Wolf-Rayet stars. Wolf-Rayet stars are believed to have evolved from O stars with an initial mass greater than 20 solar masses. There are relatively few known in the galaxy (230 or so) yet their very strong winds and high luminosities have a significant effect on their surroundings and what they tell us about extragalactic star formation processes (e.g., the so-called Wolf-Rayet galaxies).
Problem: Understanding massive star evolution: there are few known and they evolve fast (few million years).
- Common belief that such stars formed in Giant Molecular Clouds (GMCs). But many Wolf-Rayet stars found well away from GMCs. Where are they born?
- We only know a few hundred we would expect thousands to exist in our galaxy - are we just seeing an observational bias?
- How can we improve our knowledge of their evolution? What can their surroundings tell us?
My work has now extended to massive star formation with the availability of ESA/Herschel far-infrared observatory data and I am involved in several projects that look at stellar core, star and cluster formation in different environments using both space-based and ground-based data.
- Massive Stars
- Stellar Evolution
- Cloud Cores
- Star Formation
Currently associated with three major projects in these regards.
- To find the distribution evolved massive stars in the galaxy - particularly Wolf-Rayet stars, with implications for star formation and the evolution of massive star clusters. Plus interactions with their environments [w/Mauerhan (Berkeley), Morris and Van Dyk (Caltech)].
- Massive star formation and induced star formation – Herschel of star forming sites in different regions of the galaxy [w/Rivera-Ingraham (ESAC)].
- Galactic Cold Cores: extensive molecular and sub-mm surveys of Planck detected cold cores [w/Juvela (Helsinki), Tie (KASPI) and the GCC group]
Some of these are expected to develop into JWST projects after my move to STScI in April 2016.
Project/mission at ESA
Archive Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope (@ STScI from April 2016).