Professor Vik Dhillon

Professor of Astrophysics

Photo of Vik Dhillon

Contact details

  • Room: E40
  • Phone: +44 (0)114 22 24528
  • Fax: +44 (0)114 22 23555

email: vik.dhillon@sheffield.ac.uk

Personal web page

 

General Summary

I am a Professor of Astrophysics in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the Uni-versity of Sheffield, and an Affiliated Researcher at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC) on Tenerife. Prior to moving to Sheffield in 1998, I worked at the Royal Greenwich Observatory, first at Herstmonceux/Sussex, then on La Palma, and finally in Cambridge. I was awarded the Royal Astronomical Society Jackson-Gwilt Medal in 2013. Since 2014, I have been an ERC Advanced Grant holder.

My primary research interests are in the field of close binary stars, in which at least one stellar component is a white dwarf, neutron star or black hole. This work has led me and my collaborators to develop a series of high-speed cameras, ULTRACAM, ULTRASPEC and HiPERCAM, as well as a robotic telescope on La Palma, pt5m. I am also a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, which is searching for gravitational wave sources in the Uni-verse, most likely emitted by close binary stars. My effort in this area is currently focused on the construction of GOTO, a wide-field survey telescope on La Palma that will search for electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational-wave transients.

Qualifications/Awards

• Physics with Astronomy BSc (1984-1987, University of Sussex)
• Observational Astrophysics DPhil (1987-1990, University of Sussex/Royal Green-wich Observatory, Herstmonceux)
• Awarded the Jackson-Gwilt Medal in 2013 by the Royal Astronomical Society.
• Awarded an Advanced Grant in 2014 by the European Research Council.
• Awarded Affiliated Researcher status at the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias.

Academic career

Postdoctoral Research Fellow (1990-1992, University of Sussex)
Staff Astronomer (1992-1996, Royal Greenwich Observatory, La Palma)
Staff Astronomer (1996-1998, Royal Greenwich Observatory, Cambridge)
Lecturer/Senior Lecturer/Reader (1998-2007, University of Sheffield)
Professor of Astrophysics (2007-present, University of Sheffield)

Departmental administration

Due to the award of an ERC Advanced Grant in 2014, I have been relieved of my adminis-trative duties until 2019. However, I have retained my involvement with the UCAS team.

University administration

Due to the award of an ERC Advanced Grant in 2014, I have been relieved of my adminis-trative duties until 2019.

Professional activities

• Past member of the STFC Astronomy Grants Panel (AGP), Projects Peer Review Panel (PPRP), Fellowships Panel, and the Panel for the Allocation of Telescope Time (PATT).
• Past (ad-hoc) member of the STFC Particle Physics, Astronomy and Nuclear Phys-ics Science Committee (PPAN).
• Past member of the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Observing Pro-grammes Committee (OPC).
• Past member of the Instrumentation Working Group (IWG) of the Isaac Newton Group of telescopes (ING).
• Member of the European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) UK Steering Commit-tee.
• Member of the Royal Astronomical Society Committee on Diversity in Astronomy and Geophysics (CDAG).
• Principal Investigator of ULTRACAM, ULTRASPEC and HiPERCAM.
• Fellow of the Institute of Physics.
• Chartered Physicist.
• Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society.
• Member of the International Astronomical Union.

Research Interests

Research Interests

My primary research interests are in the field of close binary stars, in which at least one stellar component is a white dwarf, neutron star or black hole. This work has led me and my collaborators to develop a series of high-speed cameras, ULTRACAM, ULTRASPEC and HiPERCAM, as well as a robotic telescope on La Palma, pt5m. I am also a member of the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, which is searching for gravitational wave sources in the Uni-verse, most likely emitted by close binary stars. My effort in this area is currently focused on the construction of GOTO, a wide-field survey telescope on La Palma that will search for electromagnetic counterparts to gravitational-wave transients.

Research funding (recent, major awards)

European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant, 3.5Meuros (2014-2018, PI)
Consolidated Grant for Sheffield Astrophysics, STFC, £1.2M (2015-2018, CoI)
Consolidated Grant for Sheffield Astrophysics, STFC, £613K (2012-2015, CoI)

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Teaching

Due to the award of an ERC Advanced Grant in 2014, I have been relieved of my teaching duties until 2019. However, I continue to run the undergraduate field-trip and year-abroad schemes on La Palma.

Undergraduate taught courses (recent)

PHY105 Observing the Night Sky (1998-2010)
PHY213 Stellar Structure and Evolution (1998-2014)
PHY217 Astronomical Techniques (2010-2014)

Projects/Field Trips/Year Abroad schemes

PHY319 Astronomy project (Field trip to La Palma)
NUL301 Industrial Experience (Year abroad on La Palma)

Publications

Recent key publications

• A radio-pulsing white dwarf binary star, Marsh et al. (2016), Nature, 537, 374
• An irradiated brown-dwarf companion to an accreting white dwarf, Hernandez San-tisteban et al. (2016), Nature, 533, 366
• ULTRASPEC: a high-speed imaging photometer on the 2.4-m Thai National Tele-scope, Dhillon et al. (2014), MNRAS, 444, 4009
• A massive pulsar in a compact relativistic binary, Antoniadis et al. (2013), Science, 340, 448

Complete publications

As of 1 November 2016, I am an author on 389 papers, 223 of them in refereed journals,
including 7 papers in the main journals of Nature and Science.

A complete list of publications is available via ADS

Public Engagement Deep Sky Videos: Contributor from Sheffield to YouTube channel http://www.deepskyvideos.com
I also provide astronomy talks to local schools and amateur societies.