William Alston

ESA Research Fellow


Main Research Fields

Time series Analysis - Black holes - Accretion - Relativity


My research involves the application of novel analysis methods to astronomical data. The main focus is time series analysis of light curves from accreting compact objects (black holes and neutron stars), where the goal is to understand gravity in the strong field regime, extreme physics and the role these objects play in shaping the universe.

In particular, I use X-ray reverberation mapping and quasi-periodic oscillations (QPOs) to study matter spiralling in the inner accretion flow around a black hole. I am currently working on neural network methods to find important signals in the presence of red noise.

We're hiring! I have an ESA Young Graduate Trainee position in Machine Learning Applications for Accreting Compact Objects. Feel free to get in touch to find out more info on the project. Deadline Feb 28th 2022.

Twitter: @coherent_noise

Personal webpage: coherentnoise.space

Contact: william.alston@esa.int



Recent Highlights:

Evidence for a compact object in the aftermath of the extragalactic transient AT2018cow
Pasham, Ho, Alston et al, 2021, Nat. Ast., 245P (arXivADSNature Astronomy)

A dynamic black hole corona in an active galaxy through X-ray reverberation mapping
Alston et al 2020, Nat. Ast., 4, 597 (arXivADSNature AstronomyNat. Astron. free access)

Non-stationary variability in accreting compact objects
Alston 2019, MNRAS, 485, 260 (arXivADS)

The remarkable X-ray variability of IRAS 13224-3809 I: the variability process
Alston et al 2019, MNRAS, 482,4088 (arXivADS)


Project/mission at ESA

XMM-Newton science group

Accretion Journal club

I run a weekly journal club where we discuss recent results relating to accretion onto compact objects, feedback, time domain astronomy, GR and big-picture science.

This is currently a virtual meeting. We use the arXiv organising site https://www.benty-fields.com "ESAC Accretion". Message me to be included on the mailing list.