Research Interests

I am part of the Keele WASP team, where I am working on various aspects of the SuperWASP project and transiting extra-solar planets in general.

I was awarded my Ph.D. in 2009 by the University of St Andrews, for a thesis entitled 'Searching for transiting extra-solar planets at optical and radio wavelengths'. I was supervised by Prof. Andew Collier Cameron. The final version of my thesis can be downloaded in pdf format here.

People have speculated about the existence of planets orbiting stars other than our Sun (exo-planets) for centuries, but it is only in the last few years that we have been able to study such planets, after the first exo-planet was discovered in 1995. Since then, over 800 more planets have been discovered by a variety of methods. Recently, a significant number of planets (more than 250 to date) have been discovered by the transit method, which offers significant advantages over other methods. The biggest advantage of finding transiting planets is that we can work out how big they are, as well as how massive they are (the other main way of finding planets - the radial velocity or Doppler 'wobble' method - only tells us the minimum mass of the planet).

The transit methods requires that the star-planet system is suitably aligned with Earth, so that, as the planet orbits its star, it passes directly infront of the star. As the planet passes in front of (transits) the star, it will block some of the star's light and so the star will appear to dim; this dimming is the transit signature that we look for. I am a member of SuperWASP, which is a UK-led project to find transiting planets, and it is currently the record-holder for having discovered more planets than any other project. SuperWASP consists of two sets of 8 cameras, one in La Palma and one in South Africa. These cameras operate robotically and monitor hundreds of thousands of stars every night.

For more details on my research, please see my publications page, or you may download my CV (including publication list) here [last update: February 2015].

Professional Memberships

  • Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (FRAS)
  • Member of the Institute of Physics (MInstP)

  • © A. M. S. Smith 2007-2017