High-speed astrophysics with ULTRACAM and ULTRASPEC
ULTRACAM is a high-speed, triple-beam imaging photometer built by Sheffield/Warwick/UKATC for the study of astrophysics on fast timescales. Extreme astrophysical conditions can be found in our Galactic neighbourhood by studying the compact remnants of stars: white dwarfs, neutron stars and black holes. The dynamical timescales of compact objects range from seconds to milliseconds, which means that much of the variability observed from them occurs on these timescales. Existing common-user instrumentation on the world’s major telescopes is unable to obtain high time-resolution data, which is why we have developed ULTRACAM and ULTRASPEC. The aim of this PhD project will be to exploit these unique instruments on the 4.2m WHT, 8.2m VLT and 3.5m NTT to study physics in extreme conditions, such as accretion onto black holes, the structure of white dwarfs, the evolution of close binary stars, and the physics of pulsars.