Professor Vik Dhillon

Professor of Astrophysics

Photo of Vik Dhillon

Contact details

Group web pages

Astronomy and Astrophysics Group

Astronomy and Astrophysics Research Group

Gravitational Wave Research Group

Personal web page

http://www.vikdhillon.staff.shef.ac.uk/

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.