The goal of my work is to understand the formation and evolution of cosmic dust, particularly where it is formed. Cosmic dust is a nuisance to astronomers as it blocks out optical light, affecting our view of the Universe. It is also very important as dust affects star formation, stellar mass loss rates, the formation of molecular hydrogen and planets. Recent work hints that the explosions of massives stars (supernovae) may produce a lot more dust than previously thought. This is especially important in the early Universe where fast-lived, massive stars would be the only source of dust.
Specifically, I work on space dust in supernovae, in M31, in nearby galaxies and over recent cosmic time. This has involved using the European Space Agency’s Herschel Space Observatory with funding from STFC and the ERC.
Lighting up the dark – the evolution of dust throughout cosmic time
In 2015, I was one of 372 scientists awarded an European Research Council Consolidator grant totaling €1.8 million to carry out research for 5 years into cosmic dust. In particular, the project aums to study dust in galaxies over the past 8 billion years and to investigate dust polarisation in supernovae.
The formal 2015 ERC announcement and results can be found here.