Hi, I am the Outreach Leader in Astronomy at the University of Southampton. I started the post in June 2011 and completed my PhD (which I also did here at the University of Southampton) in November 2011.
At the moment I am still hoping to write up one of my PhD chapters as a research paper, but most of my time is taken up managing a team of PhD students and undergraduate students doing astrophysics outreach with the astrodome in local schools.
In brief my PhD research involved investigating the radio emission from a supermassive black hole, to investigate the existence of a jet and to explore similarities between this source and smaller black holes.
My PhD work was split into two parts, which I will discuss in the following paragraphs.
The first part of my PhD thesis involved work on an individual Active Galactic Nucleui called NGC 4051, using data from the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico, USA. This source is a favourite of my supervisor, Prof Ian McHardy and my old office mate, Dr Elme Breedt. I was looking for a correlation between the Radio and X-ray regimes at the core of this source, where the black hole is. A paper about this work has been accepted to the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and an online copy can be found here at the online arXix, astro-ph.
The video below is an animated video of radio images I made for my PhD (made into art by Pearl John). The video shows how the radio jets from the supermassive black hole at the centre of galaxy NGC 4051 change over time.
The other part of my PhD work was on the 13Hr field. We had deep survey information from a radio telescope in India, called the Giant Metrewave Radio Telescope (GMRT). I made efforts to combine this data at 610MHz with VLA dataat 8.4GHz and 4.8GHz, of the same patch of sky and do spectral investigations which will allow me to discriminate between the sources in the field. The idea was to then seperate the sources into two categories, either Active Galactic Nucleui (AGN) and Star Forming Galaxies (SFGs), the number of respective sources in this field would give us a handle on the star formation history of the universe.
The work on deep field imaging of the GMRT data was done is in collaboration with Dr Hans-Rainer Kloeckner (based at Oxford and Bonn Universities). Hans is a genius and has written a pipeline for GMRT data (this data is very complex to reduce by hand, trust me I have tried !) For those of you who want to know more about AIPS and reducing radio images his small guide to AIPS is very useful as a starting point in ones battle with the AIPS.
I also have a website about my research here including more detailed and scientific explanations of my research on NGC 4051 here.
For further information on my research from an outreach/public engagement point of view please see the Outreach Website/Blog which is updated regularly. Here I have also written up various outreach activities I have been involved in such as meeting Sir Patrick Moore and space days and planetarium shows at INTECH, which is a fabulous science and discovery centre with an amazing digital planetarium, it's actually the biggest capacity in the UK! (I highly recommend you go to Winchester and give it a visit).
For more information on Outreach at the University of Southampton please see the Physics & Astronomy Outreach pages and/or Pearl's Outreach website. Pearl is SEPnet Outreach Leader for the department of Physics and Astronomy and runs the Light Express roadshow. This is a laser roadshow for GCSE and A-Level students which goes into local schools, and is also FREE! For more information about the roadshow please see the Light Express Website.
Pearl John recently made the work of scientists here at the university into art and her work featured at this year's Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition. For information about the work in her exhibition see this website.
For regular updates on the Soton Astrodome and general Astronomy Outreach activites please follow @SotonAstrodome on Twitter which is manily tweeted by myself by also by the rest of the Team (which you can learn about by reading their descriptions on this page).
If you have time please also 'Like' us on Facebook! Our Facebook page is also a great place to start Astronomy discussions if you have any questions.