Recent research news - click the links for more information, or check out my blog, A cluster of thoughts.

4MOST proposal submitted for the 4SITE survey!
We have submitted a proposal for a large survey with ESO's new multi-object spectrograph, 4MOST, called 4SITE: The 4MOST survey of Stars In Their Environments. We hope to hear whether we're successful in the Summer of 2021.
Posted December 15, 2020
Review article published: OB Associations and their origins
I present the current state of our understanding of OB associations, summarising recent results from Gaia and spectroscopic surveys that has unveiled the spatial, kinematic and temporal structure of OB associations for the first time.
Posted November 18, 2020
PhD student Joe Armstrong passes his PhD viva!
Very happy to report that today my PhD student Joe Armstrong had his PhD viva and passed. Congratulations Joe!
Posted October 14, 2020
New PDRA in my group: Becky Arnold
Joining Keele today as a PDRA with me is Becky Arnold, who previously completed her PhD at Sheffield University and a PDRA at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She will be working on a cross-disciplinary project to explore the use of quantitative spatial diagostics in astrophysics.
Posted September 28, 2020
Paper published: Membership of open clusters from GES and Gaia DR2
Combining GES and Gaia DR2 data we estimate the membership probabilities of stars in 32 young and open clusters based on their 32 kinematics.
Posted June 16, 2020
PhD student Joe Armstrong paper published: Kinematics of the Vela OB2 association
We present a Gaia DR2 study of the kinematics of stars in Vela OB2 and the cluster Gamma Vel, finding strong evidence for anisotropic expansion of the association.
Posted April 1, 2020
Paper published: Kinematically hot young stars in the solar neighbourhood
We reveal the presence of a significant, kinematically-hot population of young stars in the solar neighbourhood that does not belong to any of the known moving groups.
Posted March 20, 2020
Paper published: Cluster formation by cool collapse
We present kinematic evidence that the Lagoon Nebula cluster formed by cool collapse from an initially substructured distribution, which has resulted in it's massive stars moving more rapidly, on average, than it's low-mass stars.
Posted September 2, 2019
Paper published: Asymmetric expansion of the Lagoon Nebula cluster
Combining GES and Gaia data we present the first large-scale, 3D kinematic study of a young, embedded cluster. We show that the cluster is unbound and expanding, but that the expansion is almost primarily in the declination direction, with no expansion in RA.
Posted March 29, 2019
Paper published: Line-of-sight substructure in Cygnus OB2
Using Gaia DR2 data we reveal, for the first time, considerable line-of-sight substructure in the Cygnus OB2 association, with evidence for at least two groups of OB stars at different distances.
Posted January 9, 2019
PhD student Joe Armstrong paper published: The structure of the Vela OB2 association
We present a Gaia DR1 structural study of the Vela OB2 association, mapping out the association for the first time.
Posted July 18, 2018
Paper published: Activity and rotation in fully-convective stars
We study the rotation - activity relationship in fully convective M-type stars and show it to be fully consistent with that of partially-convective stars, which has serious implications for the dynamos at work in both types of star.
Posted July 11, 2018
Cygnus conference held at Keele
We have just completed an exciting 3-day international conference at Keele, discussing Star Formation and Young Stars at Keele. The conference was very well attended and we had an excellent array of both contributed and invited talks during the meeting.
Posted February 2, 2018
Paper published: Kinematics of Sco-Cen from Gaia DR1
We present a Gaia DR1 kinematic study of the high-mass stars of Sco-Cen. We do not find evidence that the three subgroups of the association are expanding, instead indicating that the association was born as a highly substructured group of stars.
Posted January 29, 2018
Invited review talk at the StarFormMapper workshop
I recently gave a review talk on the Spatial Properties of Star Forming Regions at the StarFormMapper workshop in Madrid, Spain. Click the link to see a copy of the review.
Posted June 20th, 2017
Paper published: Kinematics of young stars in Chamaeleon I
We present a high-resolution radial velocity study of young stars in the Chamaeleon I star forming region using Gaia-ESO Survey spectroscopy. We find that the young stars have significantly hotter kinematics than the pre-stellar cores previously studied.
Posted May 11th, 2017
Paper published: OB star population in Carina from VPHAS+
Using deep optical photometry from the VST Photometric H-Alpha Survey we present a census of over 10,000 OB stars across Carina, for which spectroscopy shows a 97% success rate of identifying OB stars using photometry alone.
Posted February 27th, 2017
Paper published: Proper motion study of Cygnus OB2
We present a high precision proper motion study of the massive OB association Cyg OB2 that for the first time reveals the inner kinemtics of the association, reveals considerable kinematic substructure and constrains its past structural evolution.
Posted November 16th, 2016
Paper published: New type of young stellar transient
We present observations of a new long-duration transient in a non-embedded young stellar object that most likely occured due to accretion of circumstellar material from the remains of a dusty circumstellar envelope.
Posted September 30th, 2016
Invited review talk at Star Formation 2016 conference
I recently gave a review talk on Young Clusters and Protostars at the Star Formation 2016 conference held in Exeter, UK. Click the link to see a copy of the review.
Posted August 24th, 2016
Nature paper published: Solar-type dynamo behaviour in fully convective stars
We show that low-mass, fully convective stars exhibit the same magnetic dynamo behaviour as Solar-type stars, suggesting they operate similar dynamos that are not dependent on the action of a tachocline.
Posted August 1st, 2016
Invited keynote review talk at Sexten conference
I was recently invited to give a keynote review talk at the conference "The Role of Feedback in Star Cluster Formation and Evolution". Click the link to see a copy.
Posted July 20th, 2016
Video of my talk at the Royal Astronomical Society
Here is a video of the talk I was invited to give to the Royal Astronomical Society in March 2016 about my research.
Posted July 1st, 2016
Paper published: Mass segregation is not energy equipartition
Our new paper shows the results of N-body simulations that reveal that the mass segregation commonly observed in young star clusters is not actually due to energy equipartition, but is more likely due to the Spitzer instability.
Posted April 5th, 2016
Review article published: Star formation in the Gaia Era
The astronomy magazine A&G have published my review article summarising our recent RAS meeting on Star formation in the Gaia era. Click the link to download a copy of the article.
Posted February 1st, 2016
Press release: X-ray study of massive stars in Cygnus OB2
An SAO press release for our paper on the X-ray properties of the massive stars of Cygnus OB2.
Posted Nov 7th, 2015
Paper published: Accreting stars in the Lagoon Nebula
We have published a sample of 235 accreting Classical T Tauri stars in the Lagoon Nebula with accretion rates calculated from VPHAS+ photometry. Their distribution suggests they retain an imprint of the natal gas fragmentation process.
Posted July 30th, 2015
Paper published: New OB star candidates around Westerlund 2 from VPHAS+
We introduce, trial and validate a method to photometrically identify OB stars using VPHAS+ photometry, and present 356 OB star candidates near the Westerlund 2 \ star cluster.
Posted May 7th, 2015
Paper published: A census of OB stars in Cygnus OB2
We have published a census of 169 known OB stars in the massive Cygnus OB2 association, including an analysis of the age and mass function of the region.
Posted March 25th, 2015
Job news: Ernest Rutherford Fellowship awarded!
I am very excited to announce that I've been awarded an Ernest Rutherford Fellowship, which I will be taking to Keele University in October.
Posted March 1st, 2015
Paper published: Classical Be stars in the Perseus Spiral Arm
We present a catalogue of 247 new classical Be stars discovered towards the Perseus spiral arm, allowing the structure of the spiral arm to be constrained.
Posted February 12th, 2015
Paper published: IPHAS Catalogue of extended PNe released!
After many hours of searching through H-alpha images, the IPHAS team have produced a catalogue of 159 new and extended planetary nebulae in the northern galactic plane, vital for studying the formation and evolution of these objects.
Posted January 2nd, 2015
Invited talk at The Universe of Digital Sky Surveys Conference
Last week I gave an invited talk on the current generation of Galactic Plane H-Alpha Surveys at a conference celebrating the current work being done on digital sky surveys. You can watch my talk online by clicking here.
Posted December 1st, 2014
Paper published: Active accretion in the Cygnus photoevaporating protostars
Spectroscopy of the photoevaporating protostars in Cygnus OB2 shows they are still actively accreting, suggesting they are still building up to their final mass, and thus may be prevented from doing so due to feedback from Cyg OB2.
Posted November 15th, 2014
Meeting announcement: The Kinematics of Star Formation
We will be organising a one day RAS Specialist Discussion meeting in January on the subject of the kinematics of star formation, with particular emphasis on observations and theoretical predictions leading up to (but not exclsuively) future Gaia data releases. See the link for more details!
Posted October 10th, 2014
Press release: Over 200 million stars catalogued in the visible Milky Way
The Royal Astronomical Society has made a press release to coincide with the 2nd data release from the IPHAS survey (which I've been involved in for over 10 years!). Included in the release is a stunning stellar density map from the survey with exquisite detail.
Posted September 12th, 2014
Paper published: The Chandra Cygnus OB2 Legacy Survey catalog
After many years of hard work we've published a catalog of 8,000 X-ray sources in the Cygnus OB2 association from our 1 mega-second Chandra survey of the region. Expect many science papers using these results in the next few months!
Posted August 9th, 2014
Press news: The Guardian features our 'cosmic tadpole' image!
In the Guardian's 'Month in Space' image section this month our HST/IPHAS image of one of the proplyd-like objects in Cygnus made top billing.
Posted July 1st, 2014
Paper published: A 3D extinction map of the northern Galactic Plane
We have produced a detailed (10 arcminute angular resolution, 100 pc distance resolution) 3D extinction map of the northern Galactic Plane using IPHAS photometry. The map reaches a significant depth (> 5 kpc), was constructed using a hierarchical Bayesian model, and has been made publicly available to the astronomical community.
Posted June 16th, 2014
Paper published: The X-ray death of intermediate-mass stars
The mechansism responsible for X-ray emission from intermediate mass stars are currently not known. Our investigation of young A-type stars aimed at searching for remnant magnetic activity from the Herbig Ae phase did not detect X-ray emission and suggests X-ray emission from Herbig Ae/Be stars likely arises from accretion rather than magnetic activity.
Posted May 22nd, 2014
Paper published: The Galactic Plane VST Photometric Hα Survey (VPHAS+)
The VST Photometric Hα Survey (VPHAS+) is imaging the Southern Galactic Plane and Bulge in u, g, r, i, and Hα filters at ~1 arcsecond resolution, and will provide photometry for ~300 million stars down to ~20th magnitude. Drew et al. (2014) describe the observing strategy and data pipelining, with examples of the science potential.
Posted May 8th, 2014
Paper published: Extreme YSO variables discovered from UKIDSS
Using multi-epoch K-band photometry from the UKIDSS Galactic Plane survey, Contreras Pena et al. (2014) report the discovery of 45 variable sources, the majority of which were discovered in known star-forming regions suggesting they are predominantly YSOs with many expected to be eruptive pre-MS variables. This work highlights the potential to uncover such stars from Galactic Plane surveys.
Posted April 15th, 2014
Outreach News: Winner of "I'm a Scientist Get Me Out Of Here!"
During the last month I have been very excited to take part in the Outreach project, "I'm a Scientist Get Me Out Of Here!", communicating directly with hundreds of children in schools across the country about my research and love of science. I was even more excited to be voted the winner of the event, thanks to all those who voted for me!
Posted March 21st, 2014
Paper published: X-ray emission from massive stars in Cyg OB2
Rauw et al. (2014) present results on the X-ray properties of O, B, and WR stars in Cygnus OB2, confirming the correlation between Lx and Lbol found in previous studies, with evidence for an X-ray overluminosity for some binary systems. This is the first paper published from the upcoming ApJ Special Issue on the Chandra Cygnus OB2 Legacy Survey.
Posted February 3rd, 2014
Press Release: ESO's VST images the Lagoon Nebula
The European Southern Observatory has produced a press release showing an image of the Lagoon Nebula that I produced from images taken with the VLT Survey Telescope (VST) as part of the VPHAS+ survey. This shows the high quality and depth of observations with the VST as a preview of data coming from VPHAS+.
Posted January 22nd, 2014
Paper published: Space density and birth rate of white dwarfs
Selecting white dwarfs from the Galactic Plane Ultraviolet Excess survey (UVEX) Verbeek et al. (2014) determine the average space density and birth rate of hydrogen-line (DA) white dwarfs to be 0.00038 per cubic parsec and 5.4e-13 per cubic parsec per year, respectively.
Posted December 14th, 2013
Paper published: Cygnus OB2 was always an association
I have studied the past structural evolution of the OB association Cygnus OB2 and find it has never previously been a dense star cluster. This disproves the commonly-accepted paradigm that all stars form in dense clusters and argues against competitive accretion as the formation mechanism of the massive stars in Cyg OB2. See Wright et al. (2014b) for details.
Posted November 20th, 2013
Paper published: The dynamical evolution of star forming regions
Using N-body simulations we model the dynamical evolution of star forming regions with a wide range of initial properties and trace their evolution using various structural parameters. We show in Parker et al. (2014) how these structural parameters can be used to constrain the initial conditions in observed star clusters and associations.
Posted November 15th, 2013
Press Release: Largest star known tearing itself apart
The Royal Astronomical Society have produced a press release to support the publication of my paper on the ionized nebula surrounding the red supergiant W26 in Westerlund 1. The European Southern Observatory have almost prepared an image release of the star cluster.
Posted October 17th, 2013
Paper published: An ionized nebula surrounding the red supergiant W26
Using VPHAS Hα and HST images I have identified an ionized nebula surrounding the extremely large and evolved red supergiant W26. The nebula shows evidence of considerable recent mass-loss from the star with a possible polar outflow. See Wright et al. (2014a) for details.
Posted September 16th, 2013
Outreach News: New UH astrophysics posters for schools have arrived!
Thanks to a grant from the University of Hertfordshire I have produced and printed a series of posters that describe cutting-edge astrophysics research to school children. If your school wants some send me an email and we'll send you a pack!
Posted September 2nd, 2013
Press Release: Hubble spots a Cosmic Caterpillar
The Hubble Space Telescope team have put together a new image of one of the photoevaporating protostars in Cygnus OB2 that I have been studying and which featured in my 2012 discovery paper of these objects.
Posted August 29th, 2013
Paper published: The birthplace of planets in the massive OB association Cyg OB2
The Cygnus OB2 association is one of the most extreme and massive stellar associations known in our Galaxy, but at only 1.4 kpc away it can be studied in great detail. Guarcello et al. (2013) have recently published a large population of young stars with protoplanetary disks in Cygnus OB2 that are likely to go on to form planets.
Posted July 11th, 2013
Conference presentation: Constraining massive star formation in Cygnus OB2
At the recent conference, "Massive Stars: From Alpha to Omega", I presented results that constrain the conditions for massive star formation. We find that the massive stars in Cygnus OB2 did not form in a dense cluster, arguing against theories of massive star formation that require high stellar densities to form stars.
Posted June 17th, 2013
Conference presentation: The Structure and Dynamics of Cygnus OB2
At the recent workshop on Cygnus OB2 and Cygnus X at the Vatican Observatory I was delighted to be able to present recent work analysing the structure and dynamics of Cygnus OB2. The meeting was a great opportunity to get those working on Cygnus OB2 and Cygnus X together to discuss this massive star complex.
Posted May 20th, 2013
Paper published: New classical Be stars uncovered across the Perseus Spiral Arm
Raddi et al. (2013) have used IPHAS data to search for and spectroscopically identify a new population of classifcal Be stars in the Perseus Spiral Arm and beyond.
Posted April 18th, 2013
Paper published: The stellar activity - rotation relationship
Wright et al. (2013) present the results from a large empirical study of the activity - rotation relationship, as originally published in Wright et al. (2011), including results from a new stellar X-ray population synthesis model, XStar.
Posted Feburary 17th, 2013
Paper published: New Galactic supernova remnants discovered with IPHAS
Sabin et al. (2013) have used IPHAS Hα images to search for supernova remnants (SNRs) in the northern Galactic Plane and have uncovered 5 new SNRs that they verify with optical spectroscopy.
Posted January 27th, 2013