About Us

Who we are, and the research we are working on

Meet the Team

Using supernovae to understand the fate of the Universe


Prof. Mark SullivanFaculty

I am primarily interested in supernova cosmology (measuring the properties of dark energy) and supernova physics (understanding how stars blow up). I am involved in the PESSTO survey, the Dark Energy Survey, the Palomar Transient Factory, and the CFHT Legacy Survey (SNLS).

Dr. Mike ChildressFaculty

I joined the Astronomy Group as a Lecturer in 2015. My research focuses on progenitors of supernovae inferred from both their spectroscopic properties and their environments. I am currently involved in the SkyMapper and OzDES surveys.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Dr. Mat SmithDES

My interests lie in utilising type Ia supernovae to determine the content, nature and eventual fate of the Universe. Using data from the Dark Energy Survey (DES), I am interested in studying the diversity of SNe Ia, by considering how the local environment, spectral and colour information of the supernovae affects their inferred distances. I am also studying superluminous supernova, using spectra and light-curve information of these extremely rare events to place strong constraints on their physical nature.

Dr. Natasha KarpenkaBayesian analysis

Dr. Chris D'AndreaSN Ia Cosmology, DES

My research is focused on supernova cosmology and the astrophysics that makes these stellar explosions useful tools for measuring the expansion rate of the universe. I am a member of the Dark Energy Survey (DES) and am working on the first cosmology analysis with type Ia supernovae from DES. I am also interested in superluminous supernovae: extremely bright and exotic explosions that, using data from DES, we are just beginning to understand.

Dr. Regis CartierPESSTO

I'm an STFC-funded postdoc working on the study and physics of nearby type Ia supernovae and their use for cosmology. In particular, I'm using the PESSTO to study CSM features in SNe Ia, the early-phase colour diversity of SNe Ia, and SNe Ia that have persistent carbon features. I'm also part of the QUEST-La Silla AGN Variability Survey, a survey to find AGNs by means of their intrinsic variability, and linking with their physical parameters.

Dr. Gemma BagheriSupernovae in the infra red

I am visiting as a postdoc as part of the Researchers in Schools initiative. I am interested in studying type Ia supernovae in the infrared. At these wavelengths, the effects of dust extinction are much smaller than at optical wavelengths. I will be creating infrared light curves of type Ia supernovae identified from the Dark Energy Survey using data from the ESO VISTA telescope and the VIDEO public survey data.

PhD Students

Rob FirthFinal Year

I'm in my final year of my PhD, studying Type Ia Supernovae. I'm using photometry from the Palomar Transient Factory and the Liverpool Telescope to find out about how the light curves are powered. I have studied rise times of Ias and now I am investigating the secondary maxima found in the R and near IR bands.

Chris FrohmaierThird Year

My PhD research looks into supernova rates in the local universe using the Palomar Transient Factory. To do this, I mix real observations and my own simulations of supernovae whilst utilising the latest 'Big Data' tools and super-computers such as Iridis 4 and Edison at NERSC.

Georgios DimitriadisThird Year

My PhD research focuses on the information, both photometrically and spectroscopically, acquired during the later phases of the Supernova Type Ia phenomenon. My scientific scope is to investigate both individual events and larger samples, in order to shed light on the physical processes occurring and provide insights on the progenitor problem of SNe Ia.

Szymon PrajsSecond Year

My research is mainly focused around Superluminous Supernovae. I developed a method for their photometric classification in archival data and used it to calculate their rate. I will be using this technique, in real time, as part of the Dark Energy Survey to aid their discovery and target them for spectroscopic followup.