Oxford calling for Aussie planet hunter

Stephen Kuper

Australian astronomer and planet hunter Dr Belinda Nicholson will have a new sky of constellations to search when she takes up a role at the second oldest university in the world – Oxford.

Oxford calling for Aussie planet hunter
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Dr Nicholson is a researcher and lecturer at the University of Southern Queensland’s (USQ) Centre for Astrophysics, with her work focused on “teenage” stars.

"Stars, like we humans, go through stages of development from infancy, childhood, adolescences and adulthood. Not everyone hits puberty at the same time, and neither do stars: evolution happens at different times for different stars," Dr Nicholson said.

She will continue to disentangle the cosmos as she launches into her new role as a post-doctoral researcher with the University of Oxford’s Department of Physics and Exoplanet Group.

As part of her ongoing research at Oxford University, Dr Nicholson will keep strong ties with USQ, staying on as an adjunct research fellow and member of the USQ astrophysics team and supporting the MINERVA-Australis observatory to examine exoplanets discovered by NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS).

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Dr Nicholson added, "My research looked into the magnetic activity, winds and planets of young, cool stars, especially abound these evolutionary shifts."

Oxford will offer a new challenge for the astronomer, focusing more on planets than the burning suns they orbit.

"Exoplanet science is stellar physics at its heart, because all we can do is observe a star, its behaviour of the star and then infer the presence of a planet," Dr Nicholson said.

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