Research

My work involves using catalogue photometric data from the Magellanic Clouds Photometric Survey (MCPS) and the 2 Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS).

The most massive and luminous stars in our universe are known as OB stars. They live relatively short lifespans and account for roughly 0.13003% of the stars in our universe. At present, around 130 OB stars are known to exist in the SMC. My research aims to see if more of these exciting and rare stars lie undiscovered in the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), an irregular dwarf galaxy that orbits our own Milky Way at a distance of about 61 kiloparsecs.

To find these stars, conventional wisdom holds that one should create a colour-magnitude diagram with photometric data. This plot is a proxy for a Hertzsprung-Russell diagram and allows stars to be categorised based on their luminosity and temperature. The observer would then look for objects with a bright magnitude and (for a B-V CMD) a low colour. However, a colour-magnitude diagram can only make use of 2 different photometric magnitudes and this does not use all available data. In order to make the most use out of this data, which is all freely available online, we are applying Spectral Energy Distribution (SED) models to the data. SEDs allow for far more accurate targeting of candidate OB stars, as model parameters for effective temperature, log surface gravity, extinction, and the bolometric luminosity are calculated by comparison to TLUSTY and Kurucz model atmospheres.

We have identified 26 candidate OB stars using the range of model parameters calculated and we are awaiting spectroscopic follow-up observations to confirm these candidates.

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