Department of Mathematical Sciences

Astronomy

Prof Smits

Prof Smits has done observational work using the Hartebeesthoek 26m radio telescope on excited OH masers in star-forming regions. He is currently investigating the environments of shock-excited nebulae associated with newly-formed stars, known as Herbig-Haro objects, to see if they can support masers similar to those found in supernova remnants. A long-term monitoring programme on supernova remnant masers showed no substantial variation of the masers. Modelling of nebular gases using the photoionization code CLOUDY is being done to understand the physics of hydrogen-deficient gases such as those found in knots within planetary nebulae. A nova known as V445 Pup also appears to be the first example of an H-deficient outburst which Prof Smits is trying to model.

The evolution of this nova shell could display some different properties to those found in nova shells in which H is the dominant constituent. A programme to monitor the long-term behaviour of overcontact eclipsing binaries known as W UMa type stars has been initiated. Physical parameters of the binary systems can be determined from the light- curves using computer models such as PHOEBE or BinaryMaker. Radial velocity observations obtained at Sutherland will complement the light curve data obtained locally in Gauteng.

Ms. Skelton

Ms. Skelton's research focuses on contact eclipsing binary stars. In particular, she is looking for systems whose parameters are changing as they may help us to understand the structure and evolution of these stellar systems.

Last modified: Wed Mar 29 13:06:52 SAST 2017