DISCnet Students Profiles

Heidi Thiemann - 2017 Entry

The Open University

Variable Stars in the SuperWASP All Sky Survey


About Heidi

I graduated with an MPhys in Physics with Space Science and Technology from the University of Leicester. My first master's project with Dr. Tom Stallard focused on the formation methods of hot Jupiters, and the second project with Dr. Mike Goad focused on the analysis of the light curves 3 years of SuperWASP observations of AGN NGC 5548. My experience of using SuperWASP data led me to continue using SuperWASP at The Open University.

In my spare time, I sit on the committee of UKSEDS, manage a careers website for young people looking to work in the space industry, and run PubhD Milton Keynes. 


What is your research?

The SuperWASP all sky survey is the most successful ground-based search for transiting exoplanets, having discovered more than 150 hot Jupiters. Not only has it discovered exoplanets, but it has produced an archive of more than 30 million high cadence light curves. Past work has utilised this archive to investigate stellar evolution, with a focus on eclipsing binaries and stellar multiplicity. An initial cross-correlation by Norton et al. (2007) of SuperWASP observations and ROSAT X-ray sources identified numerous new periodic variable stars. 

Following in these footsteps, my work is focusing on the cross-correlation of a new period search of the SuperWASP archive (~3 million stars) with the new data release of the 3XMM X-ray catalogue  (800,000 stars) to yield an order of magnitude increase on the 2007 catalogue.

As a result of this, the new catalogue will be used to explore aspects of stellar variability, muliplicity, pulsation, and rotation. 

One of my current focuses is on the study of the rotation-activity relation in main sequence stars, with the aim of completing the largest study of this phenomena to date.

What have you done in the first 6 months?

I have been using Python, UNIX, and TOPCAT to create a cross-match of stars in the optical and X-ray wavelengths using the SuperWASP and 3XMM catalogues, which allows me to investigate aspects of stellar rotation and pulsation, with a specific focus on the rotation-activity relation.

Supervisory Team

Professor Andrew Norton, Dr. Ulrich Kolb, Dr. Jimena Gorfinkiel.

Why did you chose a DISCnet funded PhD?

Since my project is data-intensive and deals with large catalogues of data, it was an obvious choice to accept the DISCnet funded PhD. Not only does this allow me to attend (really helpful!) monthly training sessions specific to data science, but the opportunity to complete two placements in industry is a highly valuable and exciting experience, and will help me to decide whether to continue in academia or take my skills into industry. I am looking forward to doing a three month placement in the Scientific Computing Department of STFC at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory.

 Keep up with Heidi's research on her university profile, LinkedIn, and Twitter.