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. Charlotte AngusDES SLSNe

My research is currently focused upon Superluminous Supernovae, and developing an understanding of their progenitors. I use data from the Dark Energy Survey (DES) to parameterise their light curves so that we may better understand their behaviour as a population. I am also interested in the host galaxies of supernovae, and what the properties of these environments can tell us about the supernova progenitors. I also bake excellent cakes.

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. Rob FirthLSST

I'm working as part of LSST:UK on producing new supernova templates for use in optimising the observing strategy of LSST.

PhD Students

Szymon PrajsFourth 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.

Miika PursiainenSecond Year

My research currently focuses on rapidly evolving optical transients. These are events that are as bright as typical supernovae but evolve on significantly shorter time scales, making them difficult to discover. I use data from the Dark Energy Survey (DES) first to find these rare events, and then to analyse the available photometric and spectroscopic data of them in order to understand their peculiar nature.

Lisa KelseyFirst Year

My research focuses on host galaxies, primarily those of Type Ia Supernovae, in order to aid in understanding how the properties of the host affect the nature of the supernova. As a student in the Data Intensive Science Centre in SEPnet, DISCnet, I will also spend six months in industry, using my skills in an area unrelated to my PhD research.

Tomas MullerFirst Year

My research focus on the measurement of distances using Type Ia Supernovae. Specifically, I use data from the VISTA Extragalactic Infrared Legacy Survey (VEILS) to measure distances on the Near-Infrared (NIR), which is less affected by dust extinction, and construct a NIR Hubble Diagram. I am also using data from the Dark Energy Survey (DES) to compare the supernova in the optical.

Previous group members

Dr. Regis CartierCTIO Fellow, Chile

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. 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.

Chris FrohmaierData Science Fellow, ICG Portsmouth

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.